Central Saint Martins Short Course Interior Design tutor Pascal Anson is currently on our screens as a mentor on The Big Painting Challenge!
Catch Pascal on your TV screens at 6pm on Sunday’s on BBC1!
Catch Pascal on your TV screens at 6pm on Sunday’s on BBC1!
You’re the author of The Art of Creative Thinking and Change your Mind: 57 ways to unlock your creative self. What was the inspiration behind your new book Ideas Are Your Only Currency, and how does it follow on from your two previous titles?
The inspiration for Ideas Are Your Only Currency was my Central Saint Martins short course called 100 Design Projects. Over many years of teaching art and design at UAL, I noticed the students that lasted and prospered after they left were the ‘ideas’ students. Because culture changes so rapidly, the ‘ideas’ students were able to adapt quickly. The students who relied on a skill often found themselves washed up when technology rendered that skill redundant. So I tried to help students become good at generating ideas. I found the best way to do that was by doing two things. To set them conceptual projects that stretched their minds and forced them to think of ideas rather than create designs that looked attractive. Secondly, to set a lot of projects. Thinking of many ideas is the best training for getting ideas.
My previous books equipped the reader with specific techniques and methods to think creatively and solve design problems. I examined creative thinkers from art and design but also literature music and science. I explained the process they used to get ideas. Then I demonstrated to the reader how they could use them in whatever field they worked in.
You’ve been teaching the highly popular short courses 100 Design Projects and 100 Drawing Projects at Central Saint Martins for a number of years now. How have they evolved over the years?
If a project does not produce exciting work, next time I run the course I either alter it or delete it and add a better project. Over the years, I’ve been able to develop all the projects on the course to the highest standard. They are very different courses. 100 Design Projects focuses on ideas and how to get them. 100 Drawing Projects concentrates on exploring the potential of every conceivable medium and how to use them to improve your drawing ability.
Do you cover specific elements of the book in your 100 Design Projects course? If so, which course focuses on which elements? (i.e., I loved chapter 4, so maybe I can book on…)
A chapter of Ideas Are Your Only Currency focuses on technology – how we make it but it also alters and therefore makes us. So in both the book and the course I try to get students to work out how to make sure they use technology rather than let technology use them.
What’s the most effective ‘first step’ for any aspiring creative out there?
They should work out why they want to be creative. What is it they hope to achieve? Self-expression? Improve the design of cars? When they work out the ‘why,’ the ‘how’ and ‘what’ are easier to establish.
Any advice on how to approach a non-creative career with a bit more creativity?
Because of the success of my books I’ve been invited into places like the Royal Free Hospital where I teach creative thinking to Applied Medical Students. This is a new venture The Royal Free started because they are frustrated that science students have been taught how to learn facts at school but are not creative thinkers. A medical science students needs to be problem solver. A hospital is full of unexpected and unusual situations. That’s where I come in – I help the students to become ideas people who can think of solutions to problems.
Do you think finishing projects is important?
When you first think of an idea it is usually in the form of rough sketch and has energy and life. The more you work on it and refine it the more you can kill that energy. The trick is to develop and idea quickly and maintain that energy.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I get a lot of ideas from students. They introduce me to new topics, new music and new technologies. I meet so many students and they tell me so many things they’ve discovered – they keep me in touch.
What should our visiting students definitely not miss to catch ‘creative London’ in it’s finest?
I’d recommend First Thursdays at the Whitechapel Gallery. On the first Thursday of every month they organize a tour of local galleries. About 150 galleries in east London come together and run free events, exhibitions, talks and private views during a special late opening. They also take you around on a bus – it’s great fun and you learn a lot.
What’s the most important tool for artists?
I don’t think physical tools are important. If a painter loses his brushes he can replace them with cloth, sponges, etc. Thinking tools are useful because if you get stuck they provide lots of possible alternatives.
Can non-creatives become creative?
They already are. I’ve discovered that, working with scientists in a hospital. They are constantly innovating and inventing new procedures and treatments but they don’t think of themselves as creative, they think of themselves as scientists.
Video Art encompasses installations, films, digital media and projections and has been around in these various forms since the 1960s. But where is Video Art in 2016 and what relevance does it have today?
Video art is, in fact, one of the most significant art practices in the contemporary world. I agree that the start of the practice was in the 1960s, when it was primarily single channel video, or was used to reflect on an artist’s process by capturing their studio practice – e.g. Bruce Nauman. However, the medium of moving image has now expanded in diversity, in terms of content, duration and display. By using different editing techniques, filming equipment and displaying facilities, artists have reached one of the most significant levels of image making possible today.
At the same time, with the shrinking physical world that we live in, many contemporary artists find video art more convenient, as it can easily be stored on a hard drive.
When did you first present yourself as a Video Artist?
It was in 2011 that I installed my first multi-channel video installation in the Chelsea Triangle Space. It was the result of an experimental process in which I shifted from working with physical art (Painting, Sclupture) to time based media.
What inspired you to practice Video art?
Video art presented a new language for me at the time and I was curious to learn more about it. I was fascinated by the combination of sound, image and narrative, and impressed by the length of a video art piece- the fact that it could form a linear sequence of fragments of an event.
Currently you are a lecturer based at the Royal College of Art, London and also a visiting lecturer at the Moving Image Department of Brighton University. How did you make that transition from artist to lecturer?
I found video art more communicative and a more effective artistic tool, but I was not sure yet which particular style would be more suitable for me.
Where should I start and how could I express my ideas in a narrative form? That was when I embarked on extensive research on different video art practices such as documentaries, essay films, poetic diary films, photo-based videos, footage re-visitation, and performance-based videos, among others. I was anxious to find out more about techniques, concepts and the history in parallel. It was a fruitful journey and I realised it could be an important part of art education. For this reason, I prioritised teaching and sharing my findings with groups of art students in Britain such as at the Royal College of Art, as well as abroad at the likes of Konstfack Stockholm.
What can students expect from your new course Video Art: An Introduction to Moving Image Practice at Central Saint Martins Short Courses?
I have created an abridged version of my video art teachings exclusively for the Central Saint Martins short courses. The sessions would start by looking at the diverse styles of video art practice, referring to examples by artists and practitioners such as Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Chris Marker and Chantal Akerman among others. I believe discussion should be one of the most important parts of the sessions where the group could bring together different perspectives by trying to understand and analyse various video art pieces. We would evaluate the primary elements of each work such as concept, technique and production by referencing existing styles.
Have there been any exhibitions of Video Art in London this year that have particularly impressed you?
The Inoperative Community at Raven Row.
Congratulations to CSM Short Course tutor Alison Branagan on the publication of the Second Edition of her book The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers. Alison’s popular online course, Self-Promotion for Creatives, is essential for anyone who desires to make a living from art, design, photography, image-making, or other creative activities. There are still a few places remaining on the next session of this course which starts this coming Tuesday 18th October!
Esme will be teaching our Swimwear and Lingerie Workshop this summer, as well as our highly regarded Innovative Pattern Cutting for Graduates and Professional Course that starts in July.
Catch Esme on your screens at 9pm tonight on BBC2!
Judy Bentinck is a London based couture milliner with an international client base and is one of the tutors on our Millinery Workshop. We chat to Judy about her course, advice for breaking into the millinery world and Royal Ascot!
Who is your workshop targeted at and what should students expect to leave with by the end of their course?
The millinery workshop is aimed at beginners in hat making or those with some previous experience. It caters for students who are interested in millinery as a hobby, making for themselves and friends and family and also for people who intend to make it a career. All students will leave with at least 2 finished hats, usually more, but it depends on how fast they work. They will leave with the skills to continue making more hats and will know where to shop for appropriate materials. I recommend they buy my book Designing and Making Hats and Headpieces if they haven’t already got it. I also give lots of information on follow up courses.
How did you become a couture milliner and what is your advice for anyone wanting a career in millinery?
I was originally a textile designer and then a costume designer. I later trained with Rose Cory, the Queen Mother’s milliner and Royal warrant holder, in traditional couture milliner methods. Since I started in 2000, millinery has becoming increasingly popular as a career move, so my advice is, train well, develop your own style and have some really good photographs.
Royal Ascot is the millinery equivalent to the international shows. A parade of all the best and most elaborate creations around. Where do you get your inspiration for your Ascot designs and what advice would you give for choosing a hat for the races?
If I’m creating a bespoke piece for a client they will definitely want a standout piece but it has to match the outfit and suit them first and foremost. I have great fun suggesting and encouraging the client to wear a hat more outré than they normally would.
For my own designs the inspiration is all around! Nature , architecture, mathematics, films, history and more. When I settle to design, a new themed collection, an image or an idea or colour can influence the direction, and off I go!
I have also made hats for promotional purposes, for example, creations such as an ice cream, a jug of Pimm’s, a milk carton!
Judy’s next Millinery Workshop’s are in July and August, with further dates throughout the year. For further information please head to the Short Course website.
Alison Branagan is an author and visual arts consultant and also teaches business, entrepreneurship and self-promotion courses for Creatives at Central Saint Martins Short Courses. Students who have attended Alison’s courses have gone on to set up innovative, experimental and commercial companies. We therefore asked Alison to give us more insight to the different routes of business success for Creatives ahead of her new courses starting this summer.
If you are looking for a way to launch your art, craft practice, or design business than look no further. This summer there are a number of popular business, entrepreneurship and self-promotion Summer School courses which I run at the Central Saint Martins Kings Cross Campus in Granary Square, which are also available online.
Students who have attended these courses in the past have gone on to set up innovative, experimental and commercial companies. Each course has a number of guest speakers, including one of the team from Silverman Sherliker LLP a top London Intellectual Property firm.
In Business Start-up for a Creatives, we look at how to get started, covering a wide gamut of vital areas such as costing and pricing, what to charge, business planning, legal issues, networks, marketing, trends, as well as, finance, how to get paid and understanding tax. Audrey Whelan attended this course a couple of years ago and she has now established a successful Interior Design Business. She is now a guest speaker on my courses. She works with residential clients in London, from small flats to large homes, and she says ‘Alison’s course was a great way to begin my journey into the world of running my own interior design business. Alison was not shy about the reality of the focus and commitment I would need to put in to make it work. But her approach and attention to detail resulted in an inspiring and very informative Launchpad.’
In Entrepreneurship for Creatives we explore more practical aspects of being a creative entrepreneur, such as vision, confidence, attracting attention, negotiation, presentation, how to pitch as well as developing focused networking strategies. Rob Dakin is also a former student and he now runs his own successful children’s games business Clockwork Soldier. He is also a guest speaker on my courses. His creative products are stocked in over 500 stores in ten countries and he says ‘I truly believe the course was a really good and useful stepping stone to launching my creative business’.
In Self-Promotion for Creatives we cover many different aspects of self-promotion, these include self-promotion, social media, networking, publicity stunts, writing marketing and more serious statements. We also cover important issues such as protecting your brand, as well as presentation, confidence, and how to sell. Alana Biviano attended my course in 2014 and has established a highly successful graphic design business, BVN Creative and she says, ‘The Self-Promotion for Creatives course was a pivotal point in my career. It covers everything a freelancer needs to know in order to market themselves and turn their skills and passion into a successful business.’
Alana also attended my online Entrepreneurship for Creatives course even though she is based in Melbourne, Australia. My Business Start-up for Creatives (online) and Self-Promotion for Creatives (online) courses are available to enrol on this summer, students have attended these courses from Brazil, America, France, Spain, Sweden, Russia, China, Japan and as well as the UK.
Schelay McCarter is an Associate Lecturer at the University of the Arts London, a freelance designer/Art Director and has been teaching Art Direction for Fashion at CSM Short Courses since 1997. Her expertise lies in commercial fashion branding and this includes fashion forecasting, journalism and creative project management. We spoke to Schelay about how she got into Art Direction, her advice for inspiring creatives and her passion for teaching.
What inspired you become an Art Director in fashion?
When I think about what inspired me to become an art director my early childhood comes to mind. I had a fashion savvy mother who would think nothing of running up copious amounts of summer dresses in pretty patterned cotton prints for us each season as we grew up. I have memories of my sisters and I being photographed by my father wearing fake sheep skin fur coats, made by my mother, beautifully lined, we looked like cute little lambs in them! My mother’s sewing machine was always out – she taught me to sew, I made Barbie doll clothes, tacked them onto card and photographed them ready to sell. I sold them in a local shop in Blackheath village. This opened my eyes to the potential and immediacy of style and fashion, creating an image and selling an idea. Vogue magazine was an influence, the fashion photography in particular fascinated me, the model, lighting, pose, hair and make-up, styling and location that transported me to a bewitching world of seemingly effortless glamour. It became a world that I wanted in some way to be part of.
Tell us about your work
My work is about creating a tailor made brand image formula that reflects my client’s product market position and the aspiration of the target customer for all media applications be a website or for in store visual merchandising or both.
My work is varied. My previous experience as senior art director and graphic designer for M&S allowed me the freedom to set my fashion narratives in a variety of large country houses, studios or cityscapes. My vision is to make the viewer feel both voyeur as well as part of the scene depicted. I have used some exceptional locations and photographers; two photo shoots that stand out amongst many are Cliveden House with Simon Bottomly shooting a luxury lingerie collection in the Lady Astor suite and Antebellum House in South Carolina with Jean Pierre Masclet shooting all store M&S season’s ranges. At a recent fashion brand production shoot for a Chilean client called Saville Row. I had a 19 strong team with photographer Sam Robinson on location at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire. This location has been used for Downton Abbey as well as the film Gosford park. It was a surreal moment when my team and I had lunch in the Downton Abbey Kitchen! It is my creative team I have to thank for my fashion production successes.
What are you most passionate about?
My professional practice is very important to me, however it is my teaching that I am most passionate about. I encourage innovation and proactive practices, thinking outside the box is fostered on my art direction and production work as well as from my students on my art direction for fashion courses.
We are living in one of the most exciting periods of modern history where through advances in internet application there has been an opening up of opportunity. Utilising the past and present with the new exiting technologies available through new media, photography and post-production there has never been a better time for being an image maker.
Which piece of creative work in any discipline do you most love?
I love the alchemy of photography. Capturing a moment. Whether created on an old box Brownie using film like Jacques Henri Lartigue or Cartier Bresson’s work, I particularly like David Bailey’s brilliant Roliflex film work from the 1960s and 70s. James Meakin and Miles Aldrige’s digital camera work is vibrant and beautiful. I find the process of viewing new images and editing the selection creates the same feeling I get opening up a box of chocolates to choose the best one!
Where is your favourite London Discovery?
My favourite London discovery currently is the myriad of riverside cycle routes by the side of the London canal waterways, there is one next to the Granary road CSM Campus that leads to Little Venice and Paddington. I often take my fold up bike along this route.
What is your Guilty pleasure?
It has to be dark chocolate ……
Name a favourite book, song or film
‘The Bolter’ by Frances Osbourne.
Dear Prudence by the Beatles
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
Use your initiative; be proactive and positive, a team player doing unto others as you would be done to yourself!
What’s the best bit of advice you have ever been given?
The next Art Direction for Fashion course starts on the 19th April 2016 with further dates throughout the year
This course is also taught online with the next course starting on the 28th April 2016
Giulio Mazzarini is an Italian creative director and photographer, with a masters degree in Design Studies from Central Saint Martins, UAL. Based in London since 1998 and teaching the popular Reportage Photography short course at CSM since 2009, he is launching our first ever Food Photography short course this coming August.
You may be wondering why we need Food Photography? Well, we invited Giulio to give us an introduction to this brand new course.
My first experience with food photography dates back to the early 90s, when I helped the London-based American photographer Jay Myrdal. I was in my 20s, with sideburns, a black goatee and hair on my head.
Jay’s large Paddington studio was a maze, and that day it had been filled with colourful dishes prepared by a professional home economist.
At the time, food photography was pretty different from what we see today: studio setting could take a long time and it wasn’t possible for food to look fresh for hours. The dishes would therefore be covered with oil, deodorant and/or hair spray to keep them looking shiny and enticing.
You could not be a true professional photographer if you weren’t technically very competent – not only in photography, but also in other fields, such as studio setting and model making. Jay and his first assistant Dani where not only excellent photographers, but also amazing model makers…real craftsmen! And I would observe them in action and eagerly try to learn their tricks.
Photography-wise, images had to have a pretty long depth of field – everything in the image had to be in focus. So we would use wide lenses, with narrow apertures.
And, as we were shooting with a 5×4 Sinar camera and slide film plates, this wasn’t that easy. Exposure had to be exact too. With slide film, errors bigger than half stop could cost the job. As a second assistant, I would run from the studio to the in-house darkroom to pass exposed film to the first assistant, who would unload it and load new film. It was a very delicate process and you couldn’t make any mistakes.
I also remember practising with the light meter, going around the studio with the big Minolta around my neck. I would also help setting the lights.
At the end of my experience as a photographer’s assistant, I was able to shoot film and get the exposure right – often without the need of that light-meter.
So what is left of the legacy of that time, given that we’re now in an era when most food photography is created by bloggers using pocket cameras and smartphones?
Quite a lot, actually. First, the importance of composition: a good food image must be well composed – and studio setting can play a pivotal part in this.
Second, the careful use of light: every stunning image requires stunning light.
Finally, a keen eye for detail. It remains the only indispensable instrument for producing great shots. Rushed work is, most of the time bad work.
By the time I became a professional photographer, I had evolved my style, and become naturally attracted to lifestyle photography, using wide apertures and saturated colours.
Food photography has become a part of my travel and reportage work for magazines and brands, and not by chance, as I have always loved to document cultures, people, nature and the senses.
And in good food photography, all senses work fully. There’s our sight – the initial visual attraction; the smell, when our mouths start watering; the sound, when we touch a plate with the cutlery. And then, of course, there’s the taste. We put the food in our mouth, close our eyes and (hopefully!) are in heaven.
After all, isn’t food photography, like all photography, about “putting on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart”? *
*Henry Cartier Bresson.
Giulio’s Food Photography course will take place at CSM Granary Square from 17/07/2017 – 21/07/2017.
When I proposed ‘Fact or Fiction’ to Central Saint Martins in 1997, the response was “we’re better known for our visual side, but let’s offer it and see what happens”. My first course was sold out, and nearly all my courses since then have been too. Lucky me! I love teaching and I truly believe that in order to be a good teacher I must be a good student. I’ve learned so much from my students, and from the challenge of answering their unpredictable questions. In the process of finding answers, I explore, articulate, and discover.
In those early days, only some students had online addresses, few universities offered degrees in creative writing, and publishers were often unwilling to receive typescript submissions by email—agent or no agent. So much has changed since then. Digital communication has flourished. The traditional book business is in a state of constant disruption. More and more corporations like to talk about ‘storytelling’. More and more individuals want to share their personal stories through social media and self-publishing. You can’t go for a walk without stubbing your toe on a writing masterclass, academy or retreat. The creative writing industry is booming. Just when people generally want to read… less.
Why should anyone read your story? Is it enough to have had a miserable childhood or an unusual ancestor / experience / hairdo? What about the craft? Is it about writing, or is it about being published?
Or is it about your very being? For me, an impulse turned into a compulsion turned into a long slow existential revelation. How many books did it take? How many rejections, deals, launches, retreats, agents, publishers, readers, critics, students…? How much research, thinking, observing, dreaming, writing, editing (and editing, and editing)? I can’t say this simply enough: creative writing is profoundly good for you.
Elise Valmorbida is the author of novels Matilde Waltzing, The TV President and The Winding Stick. Her non-fiction work, The Book of Happy Endings, has been published in four languages: English, German, Korean and Serbian. Her short stories have been published internationally. Elise won the Trailblazer Award (Edinburgh International Film Festival) for her role as producer and script consultant of indie Britfilm SAXON. She wrote ‘The Making of a Guerrilla Film’ story which was published with SAXON the screenplay. She teaches creative writing at Central Saint Martins and Arvon. She is currently writing a non-fiction creative writing guide, and an Italian historical novel.
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