My practice this term involved using collage to focus on media, the world of celebrity and the consequent dehumanisation that derives from achieving this celebrity status. I wanted my work to critique the way the media shapes our view of celebrities and presents us with this exacerbated and often unrealistic character of who the celebrity really is.
I originally wanted to explore the world of street art, something that always appealed to me; the grungy aesthetic, vibrant colours and intricate nature identified within a lot of street art are aspects that integrate to create highly effective pieces. My research led me to find one artist in particular, Dain, whose collages, featuring old Hollywood icons influenced me to involve celebrities as my main focal point. In addition, a particular aspect of street art that stood out to me, was the concept of a motif, or a tag that made artists identifiable, whether it be the dripping circle that Dain paints around the eyes of his faces, or the rat silhouettes observed in Banksy’s work. I liked the idea of using an eye stencil as a feature in my work as, to me, the eye represents the idea of constantly being watched; a lack of privacy experienced by the celebrities featured in my work.
Having settled on a concept of collage work, I set about exploring what materials and composition styles would prove most effective in my pieces. Attending painting workshops got me thinking about how I should use colour in my work, which colours worked well and what the colours I chose brought to the collages. I found that inks, acrylics and spray paint, overlaid over newspaper and magazines allowed me to achieve the style that I wanted.
The feedback I received led me to the idea of collaging within magazines, as opposed to using magazine cut-outs in my work and this unconventional idea was one that I felt could work quite well. Having looked at Lichtenstein’s work and employing some of his techniques, I used paint and ink to paint over famous faces in order to make them appear cartoonish. This idea of cartoonizing celebrities was inspired by Andy Warhol’s work, in particular ‘The Marilyn’s. I felt his work carried the notion of celebrities as commodities, their faces constantly being reproduced and resold, to the point we lose sense of who they actually are as people. Thus we are left with a cartoon, this character of them that has been thrust upon us by the media.
For my final pieces, I’d originally planned to present three collages, two featuring famous faces and one featuring the eye motif that is present throughout my work. However, upon completion of these pieces, I chose to omit the eye collage as I felt it didn’t work as I’d hoped. With these two pieces, I built on my current work by including multiple pictures of the same person in one, and for the first time using a male in the other piece, in order to see if this brought new meaning to my work. I’m pleased with the way the collages turned out and I think it would be interesting to further develop the idea of manipulating famous faces, and consider using different materials and surfaces.
Above: Experimenting with colour, using acrylic and watercolours
Below: Using photoshop to add layers
Stencil work (spray paints, acrylic and newspaper):
A2 collage (acrylics, ink, biro, newspaper, magazine, photoshop):
Collaging into magazines:
Final pieces (on canvas):
Each individual possesses their own personal identity, but often our self-perceptions do not necessarily correlate to how others perceive us. My practice this term explored this concept of identity and how individuals present themselves to the world.
Having been assigned Annie Dam’s work for this term’s start project, I was able to vary my current aesthetic, manipulating objects to create pieces that contrasted strength and weakness. The notion of viewing an object and deforming it was one I felt could relate to my own practice. Things aren’t always as they appear; what one person views as one thing can be entirely opposite to the view of another.
Similarly to last term, I began by looking at celebrities but with deeper investigation into the impact the media has on our perceptions of them. Wanting to move away from traditional mediums and attendance at Photoshop workshops led me to place a heavier emphasis on Photoshop within my work. I used image manipulations to explore how celebrities are represented by their actions.
Having critically evaluated my previous work, I decided that using celebrities limited my work in the sense that my image sources were not my own and that people viewing my work already had preconceptions of these individuals that weren’t being challenged. I shifted from famous faces to my own photography, thus making my work relatable on a more personal level. Doing a Psychology degree was something I found influenced my later works as I was questioning the mental processes behind self-perception and what individuals really think of themselves. This change of direction was one I feel was beneficial as I was able to be more creative in terms of ideas and imagery.
Using the face as a canvas allowed me to explore the display of inner emotions on the outer self. Inspiration came from Levi Van Veluw; his consideration of his face as an object, being given new meaning by the designs he placed upon himself.. I continued my work thusly, drawing onto the face, creating works that questioned how we feel about ourselves. Makeup allows us to present a disguise to the world and here I wanted to use it to create an unconventional disguise. I liked the idea that people would interpret and perceive my work in different ways, similarly to how we perceive individuals around us. I combined my photography with Photoshop so that I wasn’t just limited to what I could create with a pen or a brush.
I was fascinated by the works of Natalia Pereira and Rosanna Jones and their exploration of facial disfigurement, presenting a distorted version of the self in order to emulate inner emotions. I wanted to develop my practice by considering how I could distort the image of the face. I found textured glass which fragmented my face when looking through it, a notion which I thought of as highly indicative of how others perceive us. In regards to most people we meet, all we learn of them, is a fragmented version of their true self. How much do we ever fully know someone? People are expected to conform to social expectations, and a lot of the time, individuals abide by this, presenting an edited version of themselves to the world.
Following from this, I decided to explore the use of projection onto the face. A barcode was something I identified as an interesting concept in terms of its paradoxical nature. A barcode is symbolic of individuality and uniqueness but on the other hand it is also indicative of commodity, uniformity and possession by another. By projecting a barcode onto my face I created pieces that questioned who we truly are, the projection allowing me to display inner expression on the outer self.
Photoshop manipulations of celebrity faces. How the words of others/ their own endorsements define their identity socially
Beginning to use the face as a canvas. Using acrylic paint to display internal emotion
Facial fragmentation using makeup and Photoshop
An alternative makeup