Monday, 6 October 2008

Amelias Magazine Illustration Brief!

For any one who is lacking a reason to get the old pen an paper out, here's a fun brief for a really great magazine.

Illustrate for Amelia's Magazine issue 10 – Open Brief

Theme: Everything is Connected

I cannot tell a lie, I have had a good idea of what this brief would be for some time, but I have been finding it very hard to find the right words with which to express my ideas - which is why I think that it is so important that illustrators can come to our rescue here and help out. The trouble now is that I don't have long to finish my magazine and so this brief will have a very short life. Please work quickly! I will need to see your final works by HALLOWEEN, ie the 31st of October. I apologize that you only have a month.
I am still not sure that I have found the right words, but I am going to give it a good bash... Earlier this week a strange image came to me when I was standing with some friends outside the pub, and I think it is worth relating here. We were talking about where the hell you can source ethical metals from (I need to buy some silver to use on my jewelery course) and we started to discuss the rising price of many rare metals, many of which we have never heard of but have become intrinsic to our lives; for these metals are used in mobile phones, TVs, computers and increasingly in renewable technology fixes such as in solar panels. Prices are rising because they are all becoming much rarer and harder to find. I think the phrase bandied about is that some of these metals are "running out." But actually, that isn't quite true is it?
Humans have evolved a way of life that involves digging stuff out of the ground, fiddling about with it to make stuff... and then when it has broken or we are sick of it we dump it back into the ground, usually in a landfill.
So the metals that we have taken out of the earth are all still here; they've just been split up, purified, reappropriated and turned into things and stuff - like earrings and mobile phones. And it suddenly occured to me - what will the planet look like when we are long gone? What will the make up of the earth look like? And I had a strange vision that all our crap would have decayed and slid back into the earths crust, particularly in places where large quantites of humans had once gathered, ie. on the sites of cities and landfills. So any future "intelligent" species would have to hunt around for very very small pockets of all the metals, scattered across the globe. If you wanted to find a ruby you might have to dig where London once stood and hope to find a shining gem somewhere! 
My point (I think) is, that everything that ever was is still here, just maybe in a new form. We were all born in a star, to which we will inevitably return, but in the meantime we are all here on our Earth together, and this is all we really have. And how often do we stop to think about where things really come from? In the age of consumerism we have grown so detached from the stuff of our everyday lives that we hardly stop to consider the provenance of our things. Once upon a time (and for most of our time on this planet) humans were more connected to their land. They could tell you where their things came from - that bone necklace came from the mammoth that they killed last year (okay, probably not, I expect the teeth were far too big to wear around your neck) and that earthen ware pot was made from the clay in the valley across the way. But as for us, us modern people, we haven't a clue where most of our stuff comes from. We have become so accustomed to acquisition that we no longer question or indeed care where something comes from - if it looks good and we want it, then stuff the rumours of child labour, polluted rivers or catastrophic mining practices halfway across the world. If we can we'll have it, regardless of the possible (but unknown) provenance of that thing.
Well, I think we should care. We should wonder about where that plastic toy came from, and how it came into being. What materials does it contain? What about that cheap gold necklace? Who mined that gold? What was their life like? What river was polluted in the process? And then, imagine again where our stuff goes when it is thrown away. Does it stay here in the UK? Or does it go on a slow boat to China, to deteriorate slowly over many millenia in a huge toxic swill at the bottom of a once beautiful but now ruined valley? What does that landfill site look like? What do the children who live next to that landfill site look like? What is their life like?
I also believe that now we live in our wonderful globalized society nothing is special anymore. All cultures have spread their artistic tentacles across the world. We no longer need to go to India to buy a lovely embroidered bedspread - that kitsch "ethnic" gift shop down the road stocks a fantastic variety at great prices. What is there to treasure - what has become special to our spoilt selves? I would argue that the only things that are truly special are those that are handmade with love for one person from another - hence the rise and rise in popularity of make and do, of knitting, of stitch 'n' bitch, of local choirs, book groups and so on. Things that are done with love, for ourselves and our close community. There is not a festival that I have been to this year (and I have been to lots) that hasn't had a whole host of tents devoted to making things. I see this as a sign of dissatisfaction with what we have created for ourselves at the altar of consumerism.
I have rattled on for a long time - it's a big subject, and one that has been bothering me for many years. Believe me I am not anti stuff - my house is full of wondrous crap as any of my interns will tell you, but most of it rescued from another life, ie. second hand. These are just thoughts that I would like you to go with on an imaginative tangent. I am looking for illustrations that question where things come from, and where they go. And that can visualise our great interconnectivity with everything that ever was, is and will be. I am excited!
Resources follow important technical data
Technical data:
IMPORTANT INFO -  PLEASE READ THIS! To be considered for inclusion you will need to do the following:

Complete your work to the following specifications and send me a LO RES GIF or JPG before Friday October 31st 2008 to Katie at with the email titled Everything is Connected: Artwork, so that we know what it is for and we don't lose it in our bulging inboxes.
This lo res image will be a smaller version of your final file, which will fit to these specifications:

SIZE: page size: 400mm wide x 245mm high, with a bleed of 3mm all around; ie. final size of your artwork: 406mm x 251mm.
Don't put important stuff in the 3mm bleed zone (but do continue your image into it) as this is where the printers may cut bits off when the magazine is cut and bound.

RESOLUTION: 300dpi, as a photoshop file in CYMK mode, using Photoshop print profile: euro standard swap coated 20% (or euroscale V2)

GUTTER: please also note that my magazine has a very deep gutter in the middle of double page spreads because it is such a thick beast, so it is good to keep important parts of your illustration away from the centre of the spread.

MY STYLE: if you want to know about my taste in illustration you should check out the current issue of the mag!

ALSO, AN EXTRA NOTE: you should do an exclusive piece for the magazine. It will be very obvious to me if you just send me something that you have tried to shoehorn into the brief - I will be looking for images that have really gotten to grips with the idea of our inteconnectivity and come up with something inspiring and original! They should not appear anywhere else.