This blog was never actually intended to be posted here. It was an article written last year for a magazine to show how learners can be truly creative when given license to be so. It seems that the magazine in question is in a bit of a hiatus so I thought I would post it here. It includes the story of the learning journey that three of the class went through.
There is no doubt that this generation has very strong views on social and political issues. Time and time again they express their concerns and quite profound views on important issues such as the environment, mental wellbeing and prejudice. They are, however, often frustrated at a lack of avenues where they can express their ideas and points of view in a positive way that successfully reaches an audience.
A group of Year 9 learners at Rolleston College recently found a unique way of getting a social message across to an audience. They enrolled for a one term class titled ‘Doodling for Change’ where they accepted the challenge of using doodles to promote the vision and values of an organisation that works to improve the lives of others.
They researched organisations such as Red Cross, Canteen and the Diabetes Foundation as well as animal welfare groups such as SAFE, Lonely Miaow and Big Cat Rescue. Once they had completed their research they had to put together a portfolio that included a final Doodle design and comic strip that captured the vision of their chosen organisation.
They had to polish their design using Photoshop and illustrator and then produce a physical example of how their design could be used on a product that could be mass produced and sold.
These final products included coffee mugs, keyrings, mouse pads, fridge magnets and jigsaws.
The overall intent of this course was to enable students to use their creativity to make a social impact and on the way develop design, research and presentation skills.
Abbey had a very personal reason for choosing Canteen as her organisation. A very dear friend of hers had lost the battle with Cancer when she was 9 years old. This sense of loss at such an early age has had a profound impact on Abbey and this project gave her the opportunity to celebrate the work that Canteen does but also express her personal feelings.
The central image is how Abbey imagines her friend would be now illness had not taken her. A young woman getting ready for a ball and looking forward to growing into a young adult.She is surrounded by the lights and stars that we all need to get through tough times and the symbols represent how these values manifest themselves in a young person’s life. They also capture how Canteen provides support for those affected by teen cancer.
The comic strip uses the same imagery but shows how those values can bring light and hope to a world that seems dark. The shooting stars illuminate the darkness with hope.
What is admirable about Abbey’s work is how she is able to use a terribly sad event and use it as in inspiration for a positive embracing of life and the future.
In this way she has aligned her work very closely with the vision of Canteen.
I had a few ups and downs on my journey. The biggest one was the fact that everyone else was doodling cartoons and I wanted to do something that was a little more realistic and looked like an actual person as opposed to a cartoon character. I had to figure out how to do that but still make it look like a doodle.After talking to the teacher and some of my classmates we came with a great idea,I would incorporate the cartoon doodles in the circles. Then I thought of adding the positive and encouraging words in the circles and using the doodles to show what the word means to me and my family. These words capture what it is like to be diagnosed with cancer, or having a family member or close friend diagnosed with cancer.
The main idea behind my design is to capture my memories and dreams about my best friend who passed away when she was nine, this is what i imagine her to look like now if she had lived. She is the girl in the centre of the design and she is getting ready for her first High School dance. She is dressed in blue because she always looked good in blue, she is wearing an orange sash because orange was her favourite colour. Emily always had a positive outlook on life no matter what her condition was and this outlook is represented by the positive words of encouragement on the sash. Each of the circles represent her positive outlook on life and inside of the circles I have drawn some images representing that concept.
One of these virtues is strength, not only physical strength but also strength of character.
Emily had just the greatest personality and this design captures how I saw her, it is Emily through my eyes.
Abbey’s Comic Strip
The concept behind my comic strip is to show Emily, starting in one of her darkest moments and then showing how, as life changes,things get better. This represented by the dark sky that grows lighter in each passing panel. In each panel there is a moon that goes through its cycle indicating the passing of time.As you read through the comic strip the increasing amount of light is caused by the increasing number of shooting stars that fill the sky and provide light to show her the way to go in life and also representing the light of kindness against the darkness of bullying.
The main effect, though, is to show that no matter how much darkness there is in your life there is always some light and this will always give balance and hope.
Joy chose an international organisation concerned with saving big cats. What is clever about her work is how she carefully connectes big cats with the domestic variety. Her doodle features cute cats and her comic strip makes a direct link between these two extremes of the cat family. As a result she manages to create a positive emotional response for animals that are often seen as dangerous. Both Joy and Abbey fully realise the power of simplicity and have designed images that are simple and uncluttered but still very effective at capturing the vision of their chosen organisation is an effective way.
Throughout my journey I have learned many new skills and i now have more knowledge and a sense of perspective.
I was very unfamiliar with the sequence and process of design and editing, in this course I was introduced to many new aspects of art that I did not know how to use. While trying out these processes I faced many challenges, at times I was stuck and it took effort and some strategizing to overcome these obstacles.
Forming ideas was my first obstacle. It was obvious that once I had my ideas sorted i could start brainstorming how these ideas might weave together to create an appropriate design that was creative and incorporated my personal art style. I wanted to start with the comic as I thought that it would be the hardest to do and I would be less stressed if I left the easiest part till last. I then had to come up with my character, storyline and design which just heaped more obstacles onto my plate.
I had A LOT of trouble coming up with a good storyline. I knew what feeling and vibe I was going for but didn’t know how to put it in a sequenced conversation. I wanted the storyline to be informative but also slightly humorous so it wouldn’t be too boring.
Personally I feel that a comic with too many words and is too serious does not come across as interesting or eye- catching.
Originally the concept that I had in my mind for the doodle art piece was to incorporate the main character from the comic and also single cat wrapped around the word ‘care.’
The only problem with that design was that the two elements that I wanted to combine didn’t fit well and I could not find a way to mash them together.
Later on, when I finished the comic, I had some more inspiration and started sketching designs for the doodle again. I wanted to incorporate a number of cats, as the organisation is a feline sanctuary so of course I wanted cats to feature in the art work.
This time I figured out a sequence that I should follow for the designing stage of my doodle. First, figure out a font for the main word and then base the rest of the design around that. This is because the font is very important and shows how you represent your organisation and is the main focus of the drawing and so it is what ties everything together.
Second, decide on a basic shape that the drawing would be contained within, in my case it was a circle.
Lastly, decide on the decorating. This is when the detailed designs, characters and additional effects are finally added to the piece.
I learned a lot about the design process and how hard it is to come up with concepts when designing for a specific cause.
The concept that I had for my comic was to incorporate the character that I had created in the sketching/drafting stage. The storyline was based off an idea Mr Saville gave me when we were discussing my designs. I didn’t want the story to be too serious but still get an important message across in a fun and interesting way. The main character came about by combining the different parts of different character sketches I had created. I did not know that it is best to have no more than three characters in s short comic and that caused me to revise some of my original concept ideas. The reason for this is that if there are too many characters the storyline would be too confusing and complicated.
The tiger art style came from some animated drawing I saw on Pintrest and I thought that it would fit well with my characters so I decided to use that art style. I did not want to colour all of the comic but instead select aspects that i wanted to stand out and be eye catching. As a result I did not need very bright or blinding colours to draw attention to the comic so I chose mild colours.
Personally I don’t like colours that are too bright as I find them overpowering and they make me feel a bit uncomfortable.
Sophie chose to promote Red Cross in her portfolio. The main idea she wanted to express is how Red cross offers a helping hand on a physical and emotional level, how Red Cross assists those who need support. So the Helping Hand is the central image of her doodle and the multitude of images that are massed behind the hand represent just how many area red cross are involved with and just how multifaceted their work is. All of this activity however is linked by the central image of helping others.
Sophie took tis idea of helping those in need into her comic strip which is a simple tale of just how offering a helping hand can really make a difference to someone’s life. Her symbolism of big helping small and enhancing self esteem through encouragement capture the more emotional impact of the work Red Cross does.
“At the start of this project I didn’t really know what I was going to draw and didn’t have many ideas. I wasn’t confident in drawing because I thought that my drawings weren’t that good and when I looked at the other drawings I thought that they were really good. So that night I started practicing my doodles and each time I started to get more and more confident at drawing and they started to get better. I’m still not the best but I’m not the worst and I’m really happy how my doodling turned out. I was doing another drawing for Red Cross but I showed Mr Saville my drawing and he said that I should do this one, so I did.
Drawing the comic strip was probably the hardest task to complete. I had to redo this a couple of times because my lines were not thick enough.”
Doodles and Comics
The doodles and comics produced by the class were quite diverse from the simple to the quite complex. Many like Dom polished their efforts in Photoshop but Alex decided not too and she left her work in its original hand drawn form.
Most of the students chose to present their doodles on a coffee mug, two of which are pictured below.
Ultimately the students presented their work in portfolio form. The intention was to profile and explain their final products while also capturing the creative process they followed on the way. The most important skill that was developed was the knowledge that it is possible to express a social message in a creative way but that like anything worthwhile it takes effort, application and self belief.