As I'm starting a blog - or at least strongly endeavouring to - I thought I'd write up a few bits and bobs about myself.
Perhaps this blog post is, in fact, a distraction from actual work now that uni has started again, but I thought it might be fun to take a gander down memory lane. So if you're at all interested in reading about the slightly unremarkable life of Morvern Graham, then read on. I've included some old designs and illustrations of mine from throughout the past couple of years!
My ventures into the creative world began in high school (oh what a glorious time eh?)
I had always had a love for drawing and creating things from a young age, so I took as many art-related classes as I could in high school. Sadly, there wasn't a whole load of choice in terms of creative ventures; I went to a school which pumped all it's funding into their beloved sports department, which didn't leave very much left-over for anything else. Our art education in school largely comprised of 'sit there and draw that vase of flowers', which got old pretty quickly. As we became seniors, however, we were allowed to branch out a little more. During my final year in school, I focused on a project exploring the ideas of poor health - inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo. My teacher at the time encouraged me to submit one of my pieces of work for an annual competition run by the National Galleries of Scotland in 2016. To my surprise, I was awarded the Paolozzi Prize for Talent and Creativity. My teacher accompanied me to the awards night, and I can still remember how loud she whooped when my name was called - I think everyone thought she was my mum!
I was strongly encouraged to apply for university straight out of high school, but I didn't feel like I was ready for it. I knew I wanted to study Illustration, but I didn't feel I had a comprehensive enough portfolio, nor enough experience in that field.
Illustration HND - Edinburgh College
Seeking a halfway-point, I applied for an Illustration HND at Edinburgh College, and got a place. The 2 years I spent at Edinburgh College were some of the most vital and formative for my work. I often preach the option to study at college level before uni, because for me, it was a decision that greatly improved my knowledge and skillset.
We were introduced to all the Adobe programmes - something which I had never touched prior. We worked with live clients, learnt how to present and sell our work, and had many wonderful guest artists who gave us advice. I tried a bit of everything from printmaking to animation to making books.
Some of my favourite projects from this time include my 'A Monsters Guide to Eating Humans', which was my final 1st-year project, and my 'Take Your Guess' animation, which was my first experience of using Adobe After-Effects.
After I had graduated from Edinburgh College, I decided to take a gap year. I made this decision for a mixture of mental-health reasons, but also because I just fancied a bit of time to do my own thing. During this year I did a bit of travelling to some wonderful places, and I also introduced myself to the world of printmaking. I had dabbled in printmaking a little during college and absolutely loved it, so was keen to learn more. In Edinburgh, there is a wonderful space called Edinburgh Printmakers, who offer workshops and access to printing equipment. I signed up to become a member and soon I was hooked. I tried a little bit of everything: etching, screen-printing, stone lithography, mono-printing. I took a particular liking to screenprinting and lithography, as I loved the textures they could achieve.
East Lothian Folk Tales For Children
One of the most exciting projects I've ever had the opportunity to work on, was in 2018 when my Dad asked me if I wanted to illustrate his 2nd book. I immediately said "YES ABSOLUTELY", and then slowly panicked for the next 6 months at the prospect of illustrating a whole book! It was definitely one of the most challenging projects I've ever worked on, but also the most rewarding. My Dad and I worked closely together throughout the process; him writing, and me illustrating. We visited lots of locations around East Lothian where the stories were based and talked about our different ideas for the final outcome. The front cover was the first thing I completed during this time. Granted there are some things I would do differently now, but I still feel very fond of the finished design. The illustrations for the inside of the book had a very short turnaround. All in all, I think all 30 of them were done in about a month. I used a combination of textures and created the final designs entirely in Photoshop, which was a first for me.
It's still such a delight to see the book on the shelves of actual book shops. The excitement of seeing it out in the wild has never gotten old. I remember so vividly the illustrations from my favourite books as a child, so it's always so lovely when I am told by kids that they like my depictions of dragons and goblins!
And that brings us to my time at DJCAD! After my gap year, I was keen to attend art school and learn as much as I could. When I got an interview for Dundee University, I packed my portfolio, got a very early train and was met with the windiest day I have ever seen! (Picture someone trying to carry 3 portfolios in gale-force winds) I had to practically battle my way up the hill, my portfolios flying around like sails. Luckily, my work and I made the interview intact, and I was offered a place.
My experience at DJCAD so far has been great. During 2nd-year we had some really fun and inventive briefs. Some of my favourites included Fumetto; A project set by a comic-focused brief based around the idea of communication, our 'Collections' zine, and an Artists Book project.
I also dived very happily into DJCAD's printmaking department and rekindled my love of print, which I incorporated into many of my projects. At the end of the year, I was extremely chuffed to receive the Crighton Bequest Award for Printmaking.
Uni so far has been a lovely experience. I am sad to lose an aspect of what makes art school so rewarding: the community of fellow creatives and the energy of the studios. Studying from home is going to be challenging. Whereas it's great to be able to remain living in my hometown of Edinburgh, I will miss the atmosphere of being at DJCAD. So while I scribble away at my desk, I am wishing for a swift and safe return to normality.
I hope everyone out there is safe and well, and if you made it to the end of this blog post then thank you!