Dan Berry is a comics creator and artist we’ve long admired here on the blog, but he is also a lecturer at the North Wales School of Art & Design at Glyndwr University(where he is the Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication, lecturing on the BA (hons) Illustration, Graphic Novels and Children’s Books degree), helping the next generation of creators to hone their skills and find their voice in the medium. Any artform needs not only established, experienced creators, it requires a constant infusion of new talent, fresh blood, to keep the medium invigorated, and one of the pleasures of working on this blog isn’t just looking forward to new work from the writers and artists we know and love already, it’s coming across interesting new talent. To that end Dan has been kind enough to collaborate with us on a very special themed set of Director’s Commentary guest posts; we put a set of questions to Dan’s students, and over the next few days they will be talking to us about their work, and hopefully this will be just the first time we hear from some of these creators, and we’ll see them back in the future with more work. You can read the first guest post in the series with Tom Harley here. the second with Andrew Thomas is online and yesterday we had Brian Burke; today we welcome Daisy Hillyard – you can see more of Daisy’s work on her website, via her Tumblr and follow her on Twitter:
FPI: What drew you to wanting to make comics?
Daisy: I’ve always drawn, and the idea of using images to construct a story has always been of interest. I didn’t have a huge depth of knowledge about comics and graphic novels, but it was an aspect of art that had always interested me. The use of images to tell a story is useful as it helps imagine the situations and I thought I’d be able to use comics to express myself better than any other form of communication. What was your experience of the course?
I have learnt a lot from the course. It has vastly improved my knowledge of the subject as a whole and has helped realise my strengths in the creation of my own work especially within the last semester. If I compared my work from the first semester of the first year to the final semester, I can see a massive improvement and a definite maturity in style and use of narrative. The course has taught me a lot, not just focusing on artwork generation and story telling, but information about the industry we’ll be trying to break in to.
FPI:What are you working on now?
Daisy: I am currently working with a member of staff from a marketing team for a pet insurance company, illustrating a story about a cat for a presentation that will be shown in July. As well as this, I am continuing a project from the last semester of university of creating repeat patterns of animals that I hope could be used as wrapping paper.
FPI: What are your ambitions?
Daisy: My main ambition is to generate enough money from producing artwork to survive comfortably. I’d like to produce another graphic novel in the next year or so as well as continuing to develop the way I produce artwork and the way I tell a story.
FPI: Explain your working process.
Daisy: As I am strongest in drawing animals, I generally begin a project by choosing an animal and beginning researching into this chosen species. Gathering research like this using any possible means, internet searches, reading books and taking my own photographs. This will help me with idea generation, for example, when I began my “Attempted Murder” comic, I had the idea I should use crows. I initially looked at images of crows and watched jackdaws from my window and in the park. This inspired me to research some of their habits, and one struck me as an important aspect, crows mate for life. This inspired a love story idea with crows, but as crows are also a symbol of death, the comic could not end well, and related to a story from my life I’d been wanting to tell, but had been unable to put my feelings into words.
I spend a while on character development, redrawing the characters to find the best personalities to suit the situation. I like to spend time researching names for my characters. The crows are named after moons of Jupiter and Uranus, whilst in my “Story of a little bat”, the names were inspired by Greek mythology.
To create my artwork for the “Attempted Murder” comic, I worked mainly in Quink ink, with masking fluid and waterproof calligraphy ink. I sketched out the pages in pencil, blanked out the parts that would remain white with the masking fluid, brushed on water then added a watered down Quink ink from an “Aquash” pen to create atmospheric backgrounds, which created the moody appearance that accompanied the story. I then used a Pelikan script fountain pen to draw the crows in, a stark contrast between background and foreground. This process was quite lengthy, because if the ink washed incorrectly, I’d have to start over on the page, but the end results are worth the effort eventually.
The Attempted Murder comic did not use many different panels to tell the story, which is something I explored in the other two comics I created during the past semester. For these, I worked out how many different panels I’d need, and then worked from a grid to piece the story together. One of these comics used watercolours backgrounds, against black and white characters, working with the strong contrast I’d used in the crow comic, but to tell a different, more light-hearted story. The other used very simple black and white lines, with hints of colour on the characters.