‘The Quantified Self’ – Charlotte Rose Emerson, FdA Illustration
In celebration of Graduation Day 2015, we asked FdA Illustration student Charlotte Rose Emerson to reflect on the past two years and her future plans in a guest blog post.
In her final major project Charlotte explored the concept of how we log and quantify ourselves using online platforms. Here she tells of her real ‘lived’ experience at Camberwell; her creative process, working alongside Lawrence Zeegen and ceremonious Falafel wraps on the green.
‘In September 2015 I will be joining the third year of Camberwell’s BA Illustration course, I am currently completing the bridging unit from FdA Illustration. My main plan is to go travelling. I hope to be able to integrate travelling, photography and writing into my work and use these experiences as inspiration. I took a gap year in 2010 and caught the bug, I can’t wait to do it all again and more. This is how I see my life being for a while after graduation, working as I go and focusing a large part on personal illustration projects.
My final project this year was based on the ‘The Quantified Self’. I wanted to capture a new lifestyle that seems to be on the rise where people use technology to measure and log their life. I kept a diary for a month measuring everything from my moods to my calorie intake, how many steps I took to the effectiveness of my sleep. It was really insightful. I didn’t want to created clichéd images and so I ended up creating a book based on font design. Made to my exact height I titled it “I’m so vain and yes this book is about me”. I took inspiration from Ed Fella’s book “Letters on America” and decided to find and develop my own handwritten fonts and use these to write out my life logs, exploring interactive design through page format and adding small elements such as flaps, inserts and hidden codes.
This project was very different to my usual work. Book design and 3D interactive work are areas I hope to expand upon next year. Alongside my book I collected photos of my mood three times and day and took a picture of everything I ate and drank. I also videoed an entire day of my life on a Go Pro and recorded the sound separately on a Dictaphone. The meaning of this work changed as it progressed and rather that highlighting our vanity as a society it began to express how our lives are very similar in their mundanity.
To create my work I usually use Rotring pens. I love thin line based images the level of detail and intricacy you can create with smaller nibs and through varied line weights. More recently I have begun to combine this with acrylic paint, using abstract smudges and brush stokes and then layering up my work in Photoshop. I really like the contrast between the neat precision of my drawn images alongside rougher paintwork, this is the direction I am hoping to continue along.
I often use layers to create my work and was first introduced to this through an animation brief we were given by Noriko Okaku. The animation I created won a prize for the Loopdeloop bimonthly challenge and I realised how the process of layering slides to create movement worked beautifully for static images too. The idea was further solidified when I worked as a Student Ambassador for the University last November, helping to run an introductory workshop with potential students at Chelsea College of Arts. It’s a technique I love to work with as it inspires me to take risks every step of the way. Finding a method of working which constantly excites me prompts me to continuously create new work and dream up future projects.
My biggest inspiration at the moment would have to be Pat Perry. Not only for his images, which are brilliant, but also within the way he lives his life. He captures a similar style to the way I like to work, finding a balance and connection between line work and coloured areas. Perry draws his own inspiration out of his experiences travelling and uses photography to enhance his ability to draw and combine these events. His images are exciting and dynamic, breaking boundaries through their content and subject matter. Check him out at www.patperry.net
Last summer I completed a work placement at London College of Communication alongside the Dean of Design, Lawrence Zeegen. I was offered this position through an interview I held with him for an essay I was writing as part of the FdA Illustration course. The placement was one of the best experiences of my career so far. I worked as an assistant for his book launch and exhibition, ‘50 Years of Illustration’ and helped out with the show build and creation. During this experience I truly became part of a design family and it opened my eyes up to how amazing the creative industry is. The experience also enhanced my enthusiasm for my course and for the level of ambition we as illustrators should have. This is another reason why I often aim much higher than people expect of me and I always push myself to reach these visions – 9 times out of 10 it pays off brilliantly. I really hope to work with the LCC team again in the future.
Since starting the course I have been introduced to more exhibitions then I can attend. There are some fantastic ones happening throughout the year, but without a doubt my favourite one this year was Elcaf (East London Comic Arts Festival). It was a fantastic day out and one I look forward to again next year. Smaller, weirder exhibitions tend to grab my attention more than larger galleries. However, I feel the real word works best for me, I enjoy walking around the city to gain inspiration. In Camberwell my favourite spot has to be ‘Falafel Lebanese Cuisine’ by the green. My best friend and I start and end each year with a Falafel wrap, it’s become our tradition. Plus they’re amazing!
At the moment I am concentrating on building an online presence for myself, mainly in the form of an ongoing Tumblr blog. I’m starting with work right back from when I was first applying for the FdA, to hopefully give some insight in to the portfolio I presented to get on to the course. You can check this out at www.charlotte-rose-emerson.tumblr.com. Everyone on the FdA Illustration course is so different and unique, with an abundance of talent. The FdA class of 2015 will not go into the creative world quietly, so watch this space!’