When I was 17 _ _ _ #1

Before I get to recalling the horrors of embarrassing myself last weekend at Borough Market, here’s what I’ve been up to this week for the illustration brief.

At our first class together, we were all given a photocopied piece of paper with When I was Seventeen _ _ _ written on it.

We were asked to complete the sentence as these would be used for an illustration brief. Anonymity was assured. I failed to catch on to the fact that this would be *our* brief, but I should have put two and two together. If I had, I may have chosen to write something a little less..telling. Anyway, two weeks ago these sentences were pulled out again, and handed out amongst us.

The Sentence

When I was 17 I had a Saturday job in a lingerie shop.

 What I’ve Done

As usual, we were told to come up with ten ideas for how we could illustrate our sentences before we left the class. I find this a really hard task, as I’m not used to having to be so formal about creative endeavours. Ideas sort of crop up as I’m doing other things, not generally while I’m sat staring at my notebook. But as I’ve never studied anything like this formally – I gave up art at school because I can’t draw (a topic I’ll return to..) – I think it’s great that I’m being forced to do this, because I normally set about a task and end up changing my mind over and over again. Maybe if I adopted this approach I’d save myself a lot of time and effort (thinking of the bits I make at work)?

Having said that, though, I have to admit that I haven’t yet managed to combine these planned ideas with what I end up producing. Sure, elements remain, but invariably once I start doing something it takes on a life of its own, short as that life may eventually be. I think this is something I need to avoid doing quite so much in future projects – or rather, I should at least attempt to follow the process through to its conclusion once.

Anyway, last week was a bit of a write-off as far as doing work on this brief was concerned. I also didn’t feel that that pressured as we technically had two weeks, and I did spend time thinking about what I could do. I ended up going on a lingerie catalogue mission, visiting every lingerie shop on Oxford Street and round Soho. In the end, it was a Bravissimo catalogue sent through the post that proved to be the best source of girls not wearing much. At least my mission round Soho wasn’t in vain – I picked up a great frill and some suspender clips. not as fancy as I may have liked, but still.

So, the lingerie part of the sentence seemed fairly easy to illustrate – colours, materials, catalogues to cut up.. I wanted to find an edge that wasn’t so obvious, but unfortunately I don’t think I’ve achieved this. Perhaps lateral thinking isn’t my strong point – any ideas how to cultivate this skill?

The other element I wanted to capture was that of being 17. In this first example, I tried to intimate it with the background and beads – though I’m kind of thinking that this might not be quite right, maybe it’s a bit young – as well as with a section from the ‘Smart Girl’ 1964 Annual. There was such a brilliant article about the journey from girl to woman via sensible undergarments it seemed churlish to ignore it.

As is often the case, I’ve since had (what I think is) a better idea, but time is against me and I haven’t yet produced it. That would have dealt with the 17 *and* Saturday part, so perhaps (during this mythical free time I often invoke) I’ll get round to producing it sometime soon.

Here’s a few pictures from Tuesday night, when I finally broke out the Pritt Stick and got going.


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