Monday, 1 August 2011

Work Experience

I recently did a few days work experience at the card company Carte Blanche, who make the Tatty Teddy cards, Blue Nose Friends and many more well-known cards.

They are one of the few companies who employ full-time permanent artists and it was very interesting to see how the company worked. The artists are responsible for drawing the characters and the standards to which each drawing must comply are rigorous. This is because every drawing needs to look like it could have been drawing by any of the artists working there.

The original Tatty Teddies are still hand drawn with a pencil so this was my first task. It apparently takes around three months of practice to be able to draw a Teddy exactly right and as I had three days this was a deadline I was never going to meet, despite trying very hard. My first Tatty Teddy was too timidly drawn, too light, little to no shading with the direction of the pencil lines too obvious. My second was better but this time I was a little too lax with the stitches and they came out far too dark. So I had high hopes for my third, thinking that if I could get it somewhere between the two previous attempts it would be good. Eventually it did turn out quite well. However, it is slightly clumsy in places because of how unused I was to the softness of the pencil and the technique of drawing the bear. The soft shading balanced with the 'ticks' of his fur is something that I had problems with because to shade you smudge - which smudges the already drawn ticks which then need to be redrawn. So they became overworked and fat.

Concentration and attention to detail are a must. These drawings took me around three hours to do, each! And they are very small, probably the same size you would see them on a normal sized card. Plus I didn't need to draw the poses, these were already drawn out and I used a lightbox to transfer them.

I also learnt about how important it is that the bear is very well defined in what he can and can't do. It means his personality doesn't change from card to card or toy to toy but stays constant and also that, from a commercial point of view he is marketed well to the intended customers. Understanding the brand is key!

Outside of the studio it was fascinating to be given the wider picture. I got to see the processes involved in getting the drawings put on to cards and also the designs for new toys and for packaging. I talked to a few people who explained what they do and how they got to use their creativity in their work. And from working in the artist's studio I got an idea of the strict deadlines they have to meet and their thoughts on what they do.

Overall it was a great experiences, and whilst I may not have had the most affection for the bear when I started I definitely finished with a huge appreciation for the people I worked with who were very friendly, helped me out and made me feel very welcome! Plus, I even kinda like the bear now. Kinda.