I won't lie, initially I was quite concerned I'd be pelted to death by street cred. My own 6th form experience was a baffling time. Artistically, I'm not sure if the time spent on 'self-reflection' wasn't actually just sleeping in disguise, and I remember long periods of sticking used teabags to large slabs of card. Who really knows what all that was about?
Anyway, Woking's students were far more mature and self-assured... possibly than I am even now!
As I spluttered and waffled, stood in front of my own presentation and in a burst of madness, knocked the wires out of the projector, both groups were warm, patient, and did a good job of appearing to be interested.
It was refreshing to meet a 6th form tutor with such a passion for his work and his students. Ali had a way of simply allowing a class to manage itself, rather than become regimented.
I did two talks; one on being an illustrator, and one on characterisation. I set exercises, based on my own past briefs so they could see a small snapshot of what it'd be like to work on an actual book.
I found the whole thing immensely inspirational.
The best bit for me was checking out their work. I can't recommend Woking College highly enough for its art department. My experience of A-level was very one-dimensional. This lot had already covered; photography, animation and done a bit of photoshop work. It was brilliant having them reveal rather complex thinking behind their projects, and to see how they'd resolved briefs. They were inquisitive and took critique brilliantly. Their work was astonishingly accomplished. And I was extremely chuffed to see some fantastic levels of progress in students in just a couple of sessions. ALL of them brought something new to the table.
I'm hoping I might be able to get copies of some of their work to post up here. In the meantime, you'll have to suffer some of my own GCSE/A-level work.
It was particularly interesting working with this age-group at this current time. I hope it goes without saying that I COMPLETELY disagree with the government's latest shenanigans involving tuition fees. It breaks my heart. However the fantastic thing about art is there is no one way to approach it as a career. No doubt some folk will be wondering if they will now be able to attend university. However, art is all about your portfolio. A good degree course can be a brilliant help, and no doubt it will be trickier without, but if the students I worked with continue with such passion and fervour, if they keep their hearts and mind open and continue learning, they have every chance of succeeding no matter what.
I can't WAIT to see where they all end up. I have a feeling there will be very bright futures there indeed.
I'm SO looking forward to seeing their exhibition in July, and to working with the college again next year!
If you are a school/college/organisation with interest in hiring an illustrator for workshops or talks, please do give me a yell.