Design, Presentation and Report · Final Year · Major Project · Semester Two

End of Year Portfolio: How We Got to the Finish Line, Committee Efforts and other Acts of Self-Development

It has been a long semester, but at last, the end is here. I hadn’t expected quite so much work that would be involved in gathering materials together and creating a personal brand through which we take our first steps out from student life, into the world of industry employment.

In addition to the physical requirements for the end of year show, I have created a folder of assets to prepare for interviews, and to plug my skills and talents on platforms such as social media, and at networking events. It eclipses a similar task from second year – However, this time we had the added requirement of creating business cards for distribution and the challenge of arranging for our degree show display.

Prior to beginning these tasks, I decided to narrow down my personal branding so that each piece that I created has continuity, and can be easily identified in relation to myself. Within the past year, I have been using a logo that is in the shape of a crescent moon – with a star dangling from one of the edges as if on a fishing line. Whilst I loved the concept at the time,  it feels a bit too impersonal and ‘blah’.  I felt that it struggled to communicate ‘me’  – so rather than accept the design and use it for my materials, I decided to revisit the logo and brainstorm some concepts of how to improve.

Figure 1.1 – Shown above, the logo that I have been using for the past year or so.

Below is an image of the opening shot from my showreel, featuring the revised logo. I have made the shape chunkier and included the additional decal of a rose within the shape to represent my name. I feel that this is a more appropriate choice for me, my particular type of artistic technique prefers inclusion of detail rather than the stripped, minimalistic style.

Showreel 2017

Figure 1.2 – Shown above, the black and white version of the branding that was featured on my business card. I wanted to have continuity across the portfolio work that would be viewed by the public.

My showreel was created as an opportunity to demonstrate my 3D generalist skills, in addition to my specialisation in layout, illustration and comics. The medium is not entirely appropriate given that the majority of my work is illustrative and two-dimensional, but that was compensated by camera movements that enabled flat paintings to be given a sense of movement through effects such as kens blur and panning.

Figure 1.3 – Shown above, my showreel for the degree show presentations. 

Portfolio Booklet

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 05.48.59

Figure 1.4 – Shown above, the layout for the portfolio booklet that I have ordered in preparation for the end of year show. 

In addition to the showreel, the decision was made to combine my work into a 4×6 soft leather portfolio to place on the desk for the duration of the show, allowing visitors to browse through my work and receive some context to the images that are on my board. Unfortunately, the booklet itself will not be ready before Thursday 1st June at the earliest, so I have taken the liberty of printing out two A3 images with the sequence layout of the book.

Business Cards

Figure 1.5 – Shown above, the finalised design for my business cards. 

The business cards were perhaps the most challenging element of show preparation, as I had struggled for weeks to create an interesting design that communicated my aesthetic, without being over dramatic. After a range of different rough designs, I finally settled on the style shown in figure 1.5. I elected to use portrait rather than landscape for my card. At this current moment in time, I believe that I am the only one in the class to do so.

The style itself is contradictory – the back side is very busy with the illustration of Luna, my celestial character, in her royal gown. The front side is by contract pure white, with a minuscule use of gold to tie the two sides of the card together. I had used the business cards from last year as a reference during the design process – identifying elements which I liked and disliked about each card. The use of gold was intended originally to be created in gold foil. However, the logistics of implementing that within such a complex design would take too much time, as I required them for the 19th of May.

Figure 1.6 – Shown above, the sketched designs that I had in mind for the business card before settling for the finalised concept. 


Figure 1.7 – Shown above, the revised CV for Animate17 Show.

Originally the CV that I had prepared for this module consisted of two pages and contained slightly more detailed information than the one displayed in figure 1.7 – it had been prepared after conducting research into successful CV layouts and information (the notes of which may be found in my green notebook). However, the team decided that we should have size A4 plastic displays to contain our documents, which would then sit out on the table for the duration of the show. In result of that, I was required to reformat my own so that it could all fit on the one page.

Unlike my teammates, I felt uncomfortable trying to assess my experience using software. I did not wish to claim that I had four out of five-star proficiency in Photoshop, for example, only to be hired and realise that I knew less than first thought. Instead, it seemed like an appropriate choice to list how long that I have been using the software – that way, employers who are familiar with the packages may have an easier time gauging my experience.

Cover Letter 

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 09.27.05
Figure 1.8 – Shown above, my cover letter to a fictional comic publishing company.

The cover letter was the most difficult writing task, as they are often addressed specifically to one company rather than applying to universal establishments. I decided to write the cover letter as if I were approaching a fictional company with the hope that they may have employment vacancies available, and demonstrate why I believe that I would be a great contribution to their company workforce – especially within a comic pipeline.


Figure 1.9 – A comparison between my website from second year (left) to the one I designed recently (right). 

I gained a lot of insight since the last time that I had to design a website, and I feel that my tastes have matured from that period in time also. The previous website was very dark, gloomy and, in my personal opinion, gave a rather masculine impression. Now with my current website (right), I elected to include the bare minimum of text and remove any other unnecessary features. The grey is clean but not as aggressive for visual stress, and the black text works in context with the tonal headshot. I feel that the website is now more welcoming and less aggressive towards the visitor – especially with the improved navigation and spaced interface.

End of Year Show Presentation 

Figure 2.0  – Shown above, fundraising events that we held in order to raise the money for much-needed essentials for the show.

To prepare for the end of year show, the degree show committee decided that it would be best to try and run some fundraising events to gather income to source boards (this was prior to us discovering that the tutors simply had to go to the department and request them for the class), as well as additional supplies such as paint and cleaning supplies to spruce up the room.

Figure 2.0 – Shown above, the tickets for the screening of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ that I created as proof that someone had spent the money to come to the event. 

The event of a book and bun sale was first suggested by Charlie Maxwell. That concept then developed to a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy in the Conor Lecture Theatre, the day before the release of the sequel. To drum up attention for the event, I donated two Funko Pops, a selection of comics and a cassette shaped necklace towards the raffle. Katie decided to donate a few of their own GotG related merchandise so that we would have additional prizes to give away.

The entire degree show committee volunteered on shifts to help run the bake sale, including myself. In total, I believe that we managed to raise over £500 towards the costs for the show, which is fantastic – hopefully, we can be a little bit creative with this money to design something unique for us.

Figure 2.1  – Shown above, the space in Carl Jr once the tables and chairs were removed in preparation for the boards to be installed. 

As the deadline grew closer and the first years completed their hand-in, Carl Jr was given to us in order to start preparing for the show. Over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May, the majority of the degree show committee and class joined together over a two-day clearing spree – brushing up dust, painting down walls and polishing surfaces that appeared to have not been cleaned in nearly a year.

Figure 2.2 – Shown above, the space that my team intends to occupy for the end of year show. The diagram on the left was created by Niamh Cunningham and Hannah Turkington, which illustrates where each team is in correlation to one another. 

The process was long and time-consuming, but the room really started to polish once we mended the walls with a fresh coat of white and scrubbed everything else down. The boards arrived on Monday, and were quickly slotted into place. Compared to the set-up that the year before us had, the room looks like an entirely different space.

Figure 2.3 – Shown above, an image that Tyrone had found during his research period into gallery exhibitions. It encapsulates the vision of a home location, with photo frames misaligned on the wall – connected together by one central flow in the middle of the space.  

The image in figure 2.3 was sourced by Tyrone as part of his research into gallery displays. It took the team some adjustment period to visualise the layout before it was decided that this was the look we intended to go with, as it demonstrated strong ties to the presentation format of the photo frames.

Figure 2.4 – Shown above, the living room environment of Walter Perejoy’s painting for 101 Dalmatians. The asymmetrical layout of the photo frames was the original source of inspiration behind our display placement.

Below is the finalised display that the team worked collaboratively to organise. The project work is featured in a long line across the middle of the boards, with personal work rising above that line. The items are placed together with intricate lines between all Pethood related material, bleeding across the boards as a show of unison between us all.

Figure  2.5 – Shown above, the Casa Del Doggo space for the end of year show. 

The images in figure 2.6 demonstrate my dedicated space within the team lineup. Each one of us has a desktop and our business cards to the left, headshots contained within a frame in the middle, and a plastic display presenting our CV to the right. Additionally, each team member has a short bio placed before each of their headshots, in addition to any extra materials. I have placed two A3 sized images with the layout of my portfolio book by the front of my desk as a stand-in until it is printed for the 1st of June.

Figure 2.6 – Shown above, my personal space within the Animate17 show. 

Given how quickly the deadline seemed to creep up within the past couple weeks, I did not expect to be so thrilled with the outcome of the show. It seemed like a very touch-and-go process at times, but seeing it all come together looks fantastic. I think our team has managed to achieve a great balance between each person having their individual touches, yet maintaining a form of consistency across each display. Now that the final touches have been completed, it is a matter of keeping things clean and preparing to give the room one last scrub before the show opens to the public on Friday, 2nd of June.


The Degree Show Committee

Figure 2.7 – Shown above, Katie and I during our visit to Excite to seek solutions to the lack of boards. 

Alongside the other events and activities that I have participated in, I was also an active part of the degree show committee. I joined the group because I felt that it was important for both myself and my team to have a voice in the outcome of the show, since our work, and therefore the impression of us, would be subject to the success or failure of the execution.

With the issue of the boards not yet resolved, Katie had approached their dad to voice their concerns over the lack of progress in attaining a vital asset for the display of our work. To our benefit, their father once worked with a company who specialised in shell display boards and exhibitions – and arranged a meeting for Katie and I, along with another member of the degree show committee, to attend their facilities in Lisburn and discuss what we might requirements the class may need in order to host the show.

Unfortunately, another member of the committee had to back out of the meeting due to work commitments, so on the day it was just Katie, their father and I as we travelled towards the complex and met with Colin – who sat with us as I conversed about the topics and concerns expressed within the recent degree committee meetings. We spend roughly around two hours in total going over all the potential options before working out the most logistic layout, which is featured above in figure 2.7. That way, each person in the class would have their own dedicated board to display their work, and everything would be distributed equally amongst one another.

Figure 2.8 – Shown above, are some of the layout suggestions that I had created for the degree show. 

In a similar fashion to the way most of my suggestions for the degree show has gone, once I arrived at the meeting and caught everyone up to date on how the meeting went – I was quickly outvoted by the rest of the committee, with the comment that it would be easier and more convenient just to use the boards that had been located on campus for us to utilised. Unfortunately, throughout the five or so individual meetings where I have suggested options – be that decoration, layout or assets, they have not been successful.  The exception is the concept of putting the posters in a black frame, and hang them up in sequence along the wall, and the bulk buying of necessary items such as business card holders to cut down on individuals’ costs.

Edge Award

Figure 2.9 – Shown above, the Edge Award application submission. 

An employable benefit that I had not considered was the Ulster Edge Award, as I had suspected myself to be ineligible to apply for it due to not meeting the criteria of achieving four of the necessary tasks during my university career – However, a recent review of my documents indicated that I only had to apply for one more workshop in order to acquire the award – completing the steps to graduate CV.  I completed the workshop within a few days of being enrolled onto the programme, and have since submitted my application for the award. If everything goes to plan, I should receive the award

 I completed the workshop within a few days of being enrolled onto the programme, and have since submitted my application for the award. If everything goes to plan, I should receive the award on the day of graduation. The benefit of having this award is that it is recognised by the majority of employers as an example of extra-curricular activities and engagement; which could potentially mean the difference between acquiring or losing a job opportunity.

Life Drawing

Figure 3.0 – Shown above, some of the drawings that I have created as part of the life drawing workshops with Mike Bass. 

In addition to pushing ourselves to become more employable, I wanted to use this semester as an opportunity of self-development.  I wished to improve my technical abilities and gain a better understanding of the human form as it would be considered vital skills for my career prospects as a freelance/comic artist. I felt that during the four weeks that the programme ran, I could see an improvement in my ability to capture form and shape with increasing ease and accuracy. Unfortunately, once classes continued post-Easter, the demand of attending these classes became too difficult to manage in addition to the mountain of work that was still required in order to complete the animated documentary in time for the hand-in. It is hoped that once the excitement of graduation has passed, I may be able to commit myself to a long-term programme; that is when I expect to see the drastic improvements.

Design, Presentation and Report · Final Year · Semester Two

Guest Talks: Gerard Dunleavy, William Simpson, Dog Ears, and Jam Media

Throughout the semester, I was fortunate enough to be involved in some of the events that were occurring both within the studio and out in exterior places, such as the Engine Room gallery exhibition. Each talk offered a unique perspective into the creative industry and provided valuable insight into their perception of the current employment climate.

Gerard Dunleavy 

I had been aware of Gerard from my period working with Arachnid Apps during semester two of second year – his piece for the Mulbury Project earned him the award of best VFX student worldwide, as well as an employment opportunity in San Francisco.

Fast forward a few years, and I am surprised to be sitting in university, across from the man himself. Gerard introduces himself and began the talk by explaining his background into the industry through multi-media design. He explained that he did not know for sure what it is that he wanted to do, but he knew what sort of materials and software that he liked to work with.

He describes himself as a heavily self-taught individual, building up his skills and experience through a cycle of trial and error. It is fantastic when we have the opportunity to listen to an artist with phenomenal abilities was once in the same position as we are currently; with a matter of months until graduation, the prospect can be very daunting. Luckily, he was able to give us a few pointers such as:

  • focus on timing; showreels are not kept by companies – you must keep regenerating your skills and increasing the quality of the amount you have to offer.
  • It isn’t always about luck; persistence is important too. Luck will not present itself to the unprepared.
  • Think about what skills you need to get the job that you want – do you have them? What is preventing you from getting them?
  • You will stagnate if you don’t constantly press and push yourself.
  • Turn unhappy jobs into a learning experience; what can you achieve that was not possible before?

The talk with Gerard left me feeling unsure about myself; despite the fact that I was aware that everything he said was the truth, it was difficult to hear it from a person within the industry. The insecure work, the potential to spend months without earning any money, the unsociable hours, the physical and mental demand from your job – to hear all that within the space of two hours was very mentally draining; but needed.

What I appreciated about the talk with Gerard Dunleavy, in addition to the fantastic advice that he had provided for us, was that he spoke to us as an equal. Listening to him, I did not get a vibe of superiority above us as he was the one invited in to speak about his years of experience, whereas we sit in the polar opposite position with no experience and no current industry employment. It was difficult to hear, but I appreciated that he did not sugar-coat his experiences.

He finished his talk with some suggestions such as maintaining a short reel – the shorter, matched with the impressive material, can impress a potential employer quite fast in comparison to one that is required to sit for a few minutes in order to reach the good quality renditions. He advised us not to be afraid of the ‘abyss’ after graduation; advising us that although someone may feel that they have discovered a short cut, there is no remedy for the effort of hard work and perseverance.

However, what I found to be most insightful was not the most outrageous of requests; don’t be a dick. I can understand why someone would be apprehensive to work with an unpleasant person, but this was the first time outside my experience during the Belfast Enterprise Academy that someone has directly referred to the issue of chemistry within a team. It reminded me that you can be a very talented individual, but if you cannot interact and support your team as they are determined to support you, outstanding work will constantly be just slightly out of reach.

William Simpson 

Figure 1.1 – Shown above, traditional painting and pencil pieces by William Simpson.

[NOTE: Unfortunately, the talk with Simpson was the only occasion during the events in which I was unable to acquire written notes about his seminar. I have an audio recording of the primary duration if that would be of interest]

Despite having only ever watched two episodes of ‘The Game of Thrones’ (2011), I was excited to attend an exhibition of the series storyboard artist, William Simpson. Tyrone, after having met with him previously on a solo basis – collaborated with Katie in order to arrange the event, and invited other members of the class to come along and be involved in the discussion.

The class attended the function, being able to take in the sight of his comics, pencil sketches, storyboards and traditional paintings. It was fascinating to see such versatility within the room – especially across such a board range of mediums. One thing that I observed about his style was that there was no evident consistency – he appeared to be adaptable, depending on the commission in question. Despite his proclamation otherwise, Simpson’s gallery space seem inundated with the imagery of angels and fairies – exhibiting a strong connotation to religious symbolism.

After having an opportunity to look around the space, Simpson gathered us together in a large circle before delving into the story of his employment history – sharing personal tidbits about his life at the time that he was in such a job, and even becoming self-deprecating at one point as he referred to himself as a hoarder; maintaining his mass of drawings in an array of storage boxes both within his home and at his studio space.

It surprised me immensely when Simpson said that he had no experience not work in digital format. His processes are all entirely traditional – including his storyboards for the GoT. The message that he wanted to communicate with the audience is that it is not how you create the work, but why you create the work.

He seemed hesitant to address himself as primarily a storyboard artist, listing all the other accomplishments that he had achieved during his time in the creative sector. He vocalised his recommendation on marketing versatility – demonstrate that you have multiple talents, that you are interested in a challenge and that you can commit to achieving the work required of you. Adaptability and ambition are key elements in remaining employed, and maintaining job satisfaction.

I found the opportunity to be a fascinating insight into the process and thought patterns of a seasoned artist, with many claims of industry work beneath his belt. Additionally, Simpson was willing to spare precious time to stand and have a very thorough conversation with those in our class that attended. He had some advice for us; help one another, contribute to other projects and build your body of work. Gaining experience in every opportunity is vital for showing that you are committed to your tasks and are ambitious to learn.

The most important part that I took from his speech was to consider alternative approaches to break into the industry and stressed the importance of flourishing your skills in personal projects. The concept of entering into the industry straight out of University with my degree and a just-okay portfolio is not how I wish to present myself to potential employers. I want to spend some time developing my skills, learning new software and focusing on the why – why do I want to do this? What inspiration does it provide me? Why do I want to develop these particular skills?

The conversation with Simpson has really given me some food for thought. I feel that a time will come soon that will require me to reflect what events and decisions occurred to have brought me on this path; what decisions will keep me on the path that I wish to go, or what may cause me to lose my way? Personally, I disagree with the concept of strict black-and-white right and wrong answers. Every choice is an opportunity to gain experience and learn from what you have done.

Dog Ears and Jam Media 

 The intention behind the visit for both companies was a shared interest in testing the pools of the placement and graduate market within the university, hence why I have chosen to talk about these talks under one category. It is an exciting time for the animation industry within Northern Ireland, and within the past three years, we have witnessed the growth and expansion for companies such as Sixteen South, Dog Ears and Jam Media. The creative sector is humming with adrenaline and ambition – the work being produced here continues to spread in worldwide distribution.

From my impression of both meetings, occurring one week after another, I felt that Dog Ears expressed their passion and excitement in a way that invigorated the audience; with Jam, I got the impression that they weren’t entirely sure what it is that they were trying to communicate, but it seemed to be using as little three-dimensional animation as possible.

My intention is not to criticise one talk for not being as good as the other – I did not find that to be the case at all. It is an attempt to illustrate the impact of preparation and pitching skills, and their impact on the audience within the room.

The Dog Ears talk laid out a clear path of intentions, stuck to a business plan format and enticed the situation by showing examples of work that were visually appealing and very heavily stimulant on colour choices. Jam, by contrast, chose to address their intentions outright before showing the audience what they wanted their contribution to target towards. It was just a very different method of public speaking that caused me to get a little distracted, but both had an equally good conversation that encouraged the audience to think about their talents and reflect.

To conclude, it appears that within every single one of these talks there are key elements which can be identified. Those are experience, drive, ambition and passion. Self-explanatory, when you consider the same sort of traits that you would like to see within your team members. The purpose of these talks is to evoke reflective thought; encouraging you to address your skills (or lackthereof) and what steps you may be able to take in order to continue on track to your ideal job.

It is a lot of information to think about over the next coming weeks. Creating the illusion of a brand will be part of the requirements for the end of year show; being able to self-reflect will benefit us by the way we communicate ourselves to the general public, and potentially, a potential employer. I feel that it is important to attend talks such as these, as you can easily get caught up in the human side of the story – it is the reliable quality. Quite often, we as artists only see the masterpieces that people publish, but may not necessarily think of them as human – only creators. The generosity they display as they sit down with us and share their wisdom is a patient reminder that they are human too; susceptible to issues of confidence and mistakes. It fills me with reassurance to know that by working hard, I may be able to return the favour someday.

Design, Presentation and Report · Final Year · Semester Two

Experience China Programme 2017


Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 00.41.26
Figure 1.1 – Shown above, my acceptance into the Experience China programme 2017.


From my previous update on this post, I am pleased to announce that I have been selected to participate in the programme, and become a Global Ambassador for Ulster University!

Whilst travelling internationally and widening my exposure to the outside world had not been the initial intention of this module in the few first weeks of February, I am delighted with the change that has occurred, and for the excitement that looms overhead. Through using my initiative to apply for the programme, I have now been given a significant title within the university, and have the potential to gain a qualification in level one HSK; the ability to speak another language would be of immense benefit.

Although the experience does not interlink directly with my ambition to be a freelance artist and comic creator, I prefer being rather unorthodox with my methods of approaching a situation; seeing things from a fresh perspective has always benefitted me greater than charging ahead with perceived notions that turn out to be falsified. That is why I am open minded and taking advantage of opportunities such as Experience China; the experience that I would gain from that would be beneficial to any form of employment – the inspiration and influence alone is a fantastic opportunity for an artist.

Given that my experience of China will only concur after this module has been handed in and marked, I have directed my attention on conducting research as preparation for my trip. I discovered a youtube blogger by the name of Loawhy86, who produces weekly videos that discuss his life and experience living in Shenzhen, China.

Figure 1.2 – Shown above, the intro from Loawhy86’s recent youtube channel.

Occasionally, C-Milk (Laowhy86 screen-name) will create videos for his alternative Youtube Channel with SerpentZa, ADV China – a talk show hosted on the back of two bikes, as they drive through the landscapes of Asia. The two have recently completed their own documentary, ‘Conquering Southern China’ (2016), which gave a fascinating insight into the lifestyle and social construct of a communist country within the 21st century.

One particular episode that stood out to me was their discussion regarding the educational system in China; ‘China’s Educational System is a Prison’ (2016). It is a known stereotype that all Asians are smart – as ridiculous and blanketed a term that is, there is some merit of the reasoning behind the assumption, and that is the ‘Goa Koa.’ Essentially, children in China grow up with an intense pressure of extra-curricular activities, studies and hobbies in order to shape them in preparation for the Goa Koa exams. These exams would be the Chinese equivalent to A-Level achievement, guaranteeing the Chinese student’s entry into a university of their choice.

As the bloggers converse, it becomes clear that this exam is prevalent to the educational system in China. They have spoken in previous videos that the reason China produces so many knock-off materials is due to the lack of creativity within the population and that the cause is due to the importance that is signified in correlation to these exams. Creativity, as a result, is considered secondary in comparison to the knowledge and abilities gained from more practical subjects in industries such as medicine and technology.

That is very disheartening to hear, especially as China is known for its colourful history and destinations that are immersed within the creative, expressive relics of the past. In fact, it is understandable why animators and other creative types have been drafted in within recent years, as the country has seen an increase in the demand for Asian-influenced animation; a challenging demand to attend in-house, due to the shortage of artists within the national population.

Christopher Colman (2017) spoke to the British Council about his experience living in China whilst working in the creative industry. Originally having secured a job for a six-month period in Shanghai, his future was soon to change as he adapted to the culture and lifestyle of the Chinese population. When asked about the perception of the animation industry within the country, Colman replied that the industry is not considered to be of high status within society. In a similar fashion to companies within the west; long hours, lack of appreciation and constant pressure to meet deadlines and achieve targets.

Despite the frustration, Colmon was not put off by the growing pains of the industry. He expanded his network reach, looking abroad for investors as he slowly began to build up his collective within the Shanghai district. The reason that the industry is beginning to grow is due to the fact that they have stopped in the replication and manufacturing of animated series, and started to look into the creative concept for themselves; identifying their own intellectual properties. The authorities – normally against promoting lower society industries are warming to the idea of promoting a softer perception of China to the world through their own creative industries and productions.

It is something to consider moving forward, as graduation steadily approaches further. Whilst I am currently uncertain of what to expect during the two-week stay in the Wuhan and Bejing provinces. I will be sure to try and investigate the current state of the animation industry, as it has the potential to lead to an employment opportunity at some stage in the line. In addition to gaining better prospectus of attaining employment

In addition to gaining better prospects of attaining employment with the achievements of Ulster University Global Ambassador, and (hopefully!) a qualification in HSK – I feel that the experience provides me with an unorthodox and interesting way to consider work opportunities. Only time and experience can guarantee whether or not the risk was worth it, but I am excited for the events that lay ahead.


ADV China (2016). China’s Education System is a Prison. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2017].

Colman, C. (2017). What is working in China’s animation industry like?. Available at:

Design, Presentation and Report · Final Year · Semester Two

The Dublin Eight Comic Art Festival: Part Two

Figure 1.1 – Shown above, two nerds go to Dublin for the day because comics. 

Part one located here.

The day of DECAF approached rather quickly – Easter seemed to disappear almost instantaneous, and before we knew any better Katie and I were on the Translink Enterprise service towards Connelly Station. As this was the first time that the event had been running, we had no prior expectations to proceed under – only that we knew it would not compare to the large scale, thousands-of-pounds set-ups such as Q-Con or MCM Comic Con.

We located the venue soon after arriving off the train – tracking through Dublin town towards a quaint, quieter side of the city that we had not explored before. Luckily, the place was signposted and well advertised, preventing us from getting lost.

One element that surprised me as soon as I entered the place was just how intimate the setting was – However, that was not in a bad reflection of thought. The place had a reasonable amount of attendees and surprisingly, quite a few exhibitors lined up along one wall. The excess space was used to facilitate a comic swap – a genius concept that enables people to bring their loved comics in and exchange them for a new title that they may not have read before; it is a great way to infuse diversity within people’s libraries.

The main intention of our trip was to meet new comic artists and support the community. One belief that I have always held is that the border between North and South should not divide the comic industry of the Isle of Ireland – the industry is small, personable, and supportive. I have witnessed this first hand through my interactions with people such as PJ Holden, Anthea West and Danny McLaughlin, and am determined that if I am to succeed in the comic industry, then I will continue creating this fantastic, family-like atmosphere amongst the cons.

Indeed, most of the exhibitors that were present at DECAF were entirely new to the both of us. To our surprise – and somewhat relief – we did happen to recognise one artist whom we had met the previous summer, and very excitedly purchased an ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (2005) print from. Katie Fleming has increased her attendance at cons, and has recently been producing more original content, including her most recent title, ‘100 More Times’ (Kerr and Flemings, 2016).

Figure 1.2 – Shown above, ‘100 More Times,’ by Katie Fleming. 

It was lovely being able to have a catch up with her and ask how she was getting on – as well as purchasing our own copies of her latest book. Very kindly, she informed us that part one of the story was available to read freely on the platform Tapastic. It would have been great to ask her more about her experience with the website, but due to the nature of the event it was difficult to maintain a conversation amongst the other patreons scouring the tables for comics and merchandise.

In a surprising twist, another artist that we spoke to, Thom Rodriquez, had a background in animation. This seemed to be the case with a few other of the exhibitors on the day too – which is reassuring for Katie and I, as we felt that comics was diverging drastically away from the nature of our degree. It is nice to see that type of commeradery between artists, as we can appreciate the tutalge and conviction that they had to persue their careers in such a challenging subject.

In addition to the exhibitor tables, DECAF also hosted a series of talks in the afternoon. The notes from these talks are available in my green notebook (p24-25).

As the talks were underway, I couldn’t help but notice an overwhelming sense of support filling the space; especially between the speakers as they waited patiently for their turn. Each of the artists seemed to have a strong connection with one another, and were not hesitant to stand up and promote one another’s work – rather than tearing them down. It gave me an insight into how important networking is for the sake of morale – each of these artists standing before me knew of the trials and tribulations that often occur as a result of living a creative lifestyle. There was no competition within the venue – only an overwhelming sense of passion and enthusiasm for comics; that is what I loved about the experience. Their determination was inspiring, and for what was achieved as a first-ever exhibition was of phenomonial standard and quality. It gave the industry a human face, and charismatic personality.

Figure 1.3 – Shown above, two inspired nerds. 

 On the train journey home, I confided in Katie that I cannot wait until we are established and running to a point that we could become the exhibitors at a convention or comic event. My personal opinion is that preparing myself and gathering a collection of work is the next stage of the progression ladder – skill development is vitally important if I am considering selling artistic prints and materials to people in exchange of cash; they have to be high quality and constructurally sound drawings.

Attending conventions and events such as DECAF often remind me of our immpecible standards; but perhaps that could also be our downfall. Although the quality of the material that we saw today was less than what I personally would have sold to attendees, that is why they are on the other side of the table – they are commiting themselves to their work and sharing it with society, rather than hiding it away because it does not match their personal standards. I honestly feel that this is were I go wrong, and why it more often than not takes so long for me to produce a piece of work; I am letting perfectionistic traits interfere with the process, and as a result, it has caused me to grow increasingly frustrated – both with myself and lack of obvious skill development within my work. Without attending DECAF, I may not have been able to be insightive; this cycle would have continued to interfere with my production flow. I feel that now that I have identified /why/ things are ‘so difficult’, I can pace and remind myself of the important facts – art is art, and we are the devils of our own restrictions.


Fleming, K. and Kerr, E. (2016). 100 More Times. 1st ed. Dublin, Ireland: Self-Published, p.Front Cover.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, (2005). [TV programme] 240: FXX.

“Stray Lines > The Comics Lab”. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Design, Presentation and Report · Semester Two

The Dublin Eight Comic Art Festival: Part One


Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 21.58.33
Figure 1.1 Shown above – the logo for DECAF – the Dublin Eight Comic Art Festival


It was whilst researching the comic book industry within the Isle of Ireland that I first came across ‘The Comics Lab’, an organisation based in the south that facilitates the exploration of storytelling in sequential form. The purpose of the group is not to dictate what the art form of comics is, but what it can be for the individual artist – and how they can learn new skills to unlock a new approach.

In a recent social media post, I discovered that the Comics Lab was organising an event with Dublin Comic Arts, an organisation that supports the small press comic publishers of the south. The event is called, ‘The Dublin Eight Comic Art Festival’ – a celebration of the Dublin comic industry, and providing an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work.

I saw this as an opportunity to reemerge myself within the industry and speak to professionals from different location rather than Belfast, which had been my primary focus last year. Furthermore, the fact that the event is promoted in order to highlight the role of independent, small press artists is an important factor that influenced my decision to contemplate attending the event – as graduation continues to approach at an alarmingly fast rate, I am turning my attention towards what areas within the animation and art industry that I want to ‘dip my toe into’. Throughout the entirety of my university career, the interest in comic creation has been consistent from first year until now, and as my tastes have matured through exploration and reviewing the material, so too has my ability to understand the medium with an intermediate intellect – hindsight, I feel, that was shaped by my experience throughout placement year.

Optimistically, the hope is that the event will open the avenues of communication with other comic artists, and enquire about their experience within the comic book industry. The assumption is that the festival will incorporate a convention-style layout, which would provide an opportunity to view the standard and render of the work that is currently in the market – as a result, I will be aware of what the next skill development steps that are required in order to achieve that quality level.

As Katie has been interested in following a similar career path – and as we have previously discussed continuing our graphic novel once the final deadline has passed – I thought that it might be an appropriate event for them to attend so that they may benefit from the opportunity also. In the past few days, we have been organising our finances and schedules over the Easter break – making pragmatic decisions as we weighed the financial commitment in retrospect to the prosperity of gaining information. This evening, we are able to announce that the transportation to Connelly Station has been booked – and our presence at the festival confirmed.

In the past few days, we have been organising our finances and schedules over the Easter break – making pragmatic decisions as we weighed the financial commitment in retrospect to the prosperity of gaining information. However, this evening we were able to book the transportation to Connelly Station – with the date set for Sunday, the 23rd of April.

Whilst I have already stated the optimistic intentions from attending this event, I do have to admit from an artists’ standpoint – I am excited to explore this new area of Ireland-based comic creators and see what material they have to offer. Since the incidents of last summer, I was no longer able to maintain a weekly presence in the local comic shop, and have not been as aware of the current storylines and trends within the mainstream comic industry. The realisation of the circumstance was disheartening, but by refocusing my perception of the situation, I am viewing the festival as an opportunity to tailor my tastes towards something new and explore genres and styles that previously would not have been on my radar – with crossed fingers, I hope that this experience may lead to one of many positive steps to my debut into the comic publishing industry.


“Stray Lines > The Comics Lab”. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

Design, Presentation and Report · Final Year · Semester Two

Application for the Experience China 2017 Programme

In the quest of research into potential options for post-graduation employment opportunities, one area that I had not expected to explore was the possibility of exploring international opportunities – that was, until I recently reviewed an email that was sent by the University’s international studies department, illustrating an opportunity for a two-week summer school experience in the Hubei and Bejing provinces of China.

At first glance, I did not contemplate the email for serious consideration. However, as the days had passed, my interests in the experience continued to grow – general intrigue at first, but as the prospects of potential benefits began to surface the more I was drawn towards submitting my own application.


Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 19.52.51
1.1 Shown above – the email that I received regarding the Experience China programme, dated the 10th of February, 2017. 


In figure 1.1, I have included the email in question, which mentioned some of the benefits from applying to the Experience China programme. Whilst the experience is not directly related to the arts and animation, nor is it connected to any local industries, it is my belief that the experience could prove to be of substantial prosperity as an integrated link that may contribute to long-term career opportunities.

With regards to the industry in Northern Ireland, the opportunities for employment and expansion have increased tenfold over the past decade, with the presence of animation and game studio start-ups facilitating spaces within towns and cities across the province. In direct correlation with company growth, the media material that is emerging from this part of the world is fluctuating into an international market – and as prediction would indicate, an employee with the title of Global Ambassador and independently-gained knowledge of Eastern lifestyle and economics may prove to be of significant advantage to an expanding company.

In juxtaposition, there is an equal opportunity for international employment through Experience China, if my application proves to be prosperous. The two week period will enable me to explore two of the most developed provinces in the People’s Republic of China. The land is soaked with the richness of heritage, history and culture that spans centuries, but the approach to creativity is different to the way that it is embraced in western society – the ideation, vision and execution of concepts and imagery is vastly different due to the nature of the Chinese educational system and employment market. Whilst this is not a criticism, it is apparent that there is an opportunity to incorporate those traits and introduce them to the industry in Asia, enabling the companies to gain a developed and rounded view of the work that is being created worldwide, and the business opportunities that await the influx of western inspiration.