The trial of producing a huge art project

For past six months, I’ve been working myself to the bone in producing what is perhaps my biggest art project yet. Simply put it, its a series of books (which I call “visual art albums”) that deal with aspects of Christianity through a more surreal prism of thought. I originally conceived it as a project about world beliefs in general, but I encountered several problems during the research phase of the project, and thus I changed the overall theme of the project.

A lot of my time has been devoted to finishing the project that I started, and so I’d like tonight’s post to talk about what goes on behind the scenes, and offer some insight into the project’s concept, creation, and production.

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Book III (The Houses of God), shown being produced during today’s sessions.

The project was originally titled “Visions”, then I changed the name of the project to “In the Valley of the Shadow of Faith”, and that name ran until last week, when I decided to change its named to “The Shadow Bible” (I name I chose for when it becomes a published book). I have made nine A2 folders, each of which are meant to contain 11 artworks, along with text and additional embellishments across 48 pages per book (as a whole book, this would be 432 pages long). I made it this way because I thought there would be nine units in the second year of my art course. This was eventually proven wrong. There were eight units, and only one could accommodate my project, so I’ve been working on the whole project alongside the other assignments. As you could imagine, it’s been a living hell managing all this.

Much of the project was conceived a few months before production actually started. In May 2015, I began to plan out my ideas, and August, I began making the book folders. Meanwhile, the planning phase of the project, wherein I would organize my various ideas and concepts for the project (at least by name), continued until November. I produced the artwork starting as early as September, but did this sporadically until November 17th, when I began producing artworks almost every day until February 4th, when I had finished all the artworks relevant to the project. The week before was when I finished the first book (or rather the eighth in chronological order), and from then on I began focusing on the books.

Today, I’m on what could be considered the final stages of the project. I had finished all 99 artworks, and so all that’s left is to finish the books, writing for each one along the way. I made the actual artworks as drawings and paintings, experimenting with various mediums. The books are each made using 24 sheets of tropical paper (except for one book which uses metallic paper), with each side displaying either an artwork, the text to go with the artwork, or anything else that I use to fill the remaining pages. The artwork is stuck down to the pages using double-sided tape, and since one roll runs out after around two and a half books, I had to buy it in bulk. Each book can take up to a total 12 hours to produce (which is why I split off production into separate sessions, each lasting up to four hours). The text is written using pencils, and exhibits a style of writing that doesn’t adhere any current precepts of creative writing (mainly because I don’t know any).

For the books, I want to convey narrative with a lyrical style of writing. This is in part due to the fact that I derived the concept of the project from music albums and the booklets that come with them (particularly vinyl records, and especially Christian Death LP’s). In fact, the writing in the project was influenced by the music I listen to on a daily basis. Sadly, this is not a collaborative effort, so I’ve had to do all the production and writing by myself, and I have until May to complete it. I’m on track, but it’s been a long and exhausting road to get to where I am now. It’s also been quite an expensive project. The amount of A2 card I need to finish the project has so far costed me a total of £120, with other costs being incurred in buying new pencils and replacing any paints that have run out. I’d say the project has so far cost me upwards of £300 to produce. Considering that I have no income, I’m lucky that I’m able to afford everything.

Producing “The Shadow Bible” has been quite a trying part of my life, but I feel that the experience has been a test of character. In my opinion, some of my best artworks have emerged from the sessions, and it’s on this project that I’ve actually started visualizing what I might want to produce in my later years. There’s also the prospect of releasing this whole project as a published book (which, according to one of my lecturers, it is entirely possible to do). That sounds like the most exciting prospect in years. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but if it works, who knows what could happen.

Until I start university, I’m certain that this is the hardest project I’ve ever done, but when it’s done, it’ll be one of the most satisfying things I’ve done yet, mainly because of the sheer ambition and scope of the project. Throughout the project, I felt like I was making something nobody else had done before (then again, I’m sure most people have more sense), and I think that’s been keeping me going all this time, that and the fact that I was making something I truly wanted to for the first time in many years. For all its ups and downs, I have high hopes for the project, and if given the chance, I’d do it again (though, hopefully, it’d be a lot shorter).

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A special Boxing Day announcement

Today, in lieu of a normal blog post, I’d like to take the time to announce that I’m currently planning a new project for 2016. For a very long time, I have wanted to write my own film review site in a similar vein to what I do on Stefan Grasso’s Game Reviews. After giving the idea much thought, I have decided to go through with it at some point in the new year. I have not decided whether it should be a site on WordPress or on a new platform, but I have decided that it will follow a similar format to that of Stefan Grasso’s Game Reviews, complete with scores and grades. Whatever I decide, this new blog will be called “Movies for Earthlings”, and I may decide to allow other people to write their own movie reviews on it as well in the future (maybe if I join a film society in university).

Prior to this, I wrote my film reviews on a site called Rotten Tomatoes. They were usually short, condensed reviews that were also published on Facebook, and I used to do them extremely often. However, the demands of my current course and project have made that impractical, and in the time I’ve been working, I’ve also grown tired of the format I’ve been using for the past three years. When Movies for Earthlings begins, I will begin upgrading some of my old film reviews so that they meet a new standard that I will set for them (I’m thinking something along the lines of 500 words minimum for each review).

Of course, because I’m still working on an extensive art project, among other things, nobody will even see the new blog until at least the spring of 2016, and that’s if I don’t want to wait until university to start the blog. The new blog is currently in its planning stages, and I’m currently still enjoying my holidays, so I won’t say anymore on these matters until I’m finally ready to unveil the new project. In the meantime, I might want to keep up my practice while I still can, figuring out what to do with the new site along the way.

Lamenting the death of “Freak Out”

Today, I received word that the Games Academy lecturer will not be returning for the rest of the college year. talk about a bad start to summer term. I was really hoping that I could continue work on it.

For those of you who don’t know, “Freak Out” was a video game project I was working on with a few of my college classmates beginning in October 2012. It was being made in the Coleg Sir Gar Graig campus in Wales as our project for the Games Academy. It was supposed to play like the original Grand Theft Auto, but with a series original design choices to make it feel more like the 70’s.

The plot was about a 70′s pimp named “Sweet Daddy” Clarence, who takes LSD and winds up in a freaky dimension that’s out of the ordinary,  and it’s up to him to find out what the hell is going on, while surviving the onslaught that’s coming at him.

In short, it was supposed to be an awesome concept, especially compared to what Team Azbo was originally going with (which was essentially a basic zombie shooter). I was trying to pave the way for something original. However, numerous factors conspired to ensure that this would never see the light of day.

A month before Christmas, my class found out that they were behind on one of the units, and that Games Academy had to be cancelled in order to make time to catch up. This was the first sign. The second sign was that, after Games Academy returned in mid-February, the amount of people who attended would progressively decline, to the point that I was the only one who always came.

It had gotten so bad, that I was the only one from Team Azbo who was left. My initial worry was about how I was going to look after the files my teammates left behind.

Finally, Games Academy was killed off, due to the unspecified illness of the lecturer. What this meant was that a potentially brilliant game was killed off as well.

Of course I feel bad about it. It was something that I helped create, and it was something I wanted to do. It was as though I lost a job. Either way, I’ve got to move on from it. Games Academy was going to fail anyway, due to poor planning and timing.