1.4 What’s Next

to be updated
My work for this course built on work I had done in Illustration 1 and Book Design 1, building on technical skills I had developed in drawing and painting and exploring different media, papers etc. I have enjoyed a wide range of topics in this course, particularly:
Experimenting with different physical and digital workflow possibilities throughout the course, in particular Hybrids http://illustration.zemniimages.info/portfolio/1-2-hybrids-mixing-and-matching-tools and Assignment 2 A Sense of Place, Assignment 3 The Nose, Assignment 4 From the Edge and Assignment 5 Oromia: Journey Reflected and Project 4.2 Deliverance and Journey. My Critical Review: iPad Explorations discusses different potential workflows involving the iPad.
Use of collage both as a way of brainstorming and developing images, and as a medium in itself. See particularly Assignment 5 Oromia: Journey Reflected
Exploration of interactive possibilities: websites as in Assignment 4 From the Edge and interactive pdfs as in Assignment 5 Oromia: Journey Reflected
In general I feel that in this work I have made a lot of progress towards having greater control over media, and able to work towards images that have impact and meaning.
In selecting my images for assessment I have tried to present the range of my different work and technical media experiments. My ‘style’ is emerging from this I think, an approach that generally uses life or textures/found images that are then combined and layered digitally. Trying to make the final media choice, lines and shape convey the meaning – or a range of meanings – I have chosen. In this I still have to work harder – I tend to get bogged down in research and lots of competing ideas, so the final message can often be a bit confused (rather than tantalisingly ambiguous).
There are quite a number of issues that I need/want to work on going forward:
Development of a clearer narrative so that images can be sequenced. Currently in the books Journey and Deliverance, and also some of the pages in Assignment 4 do not have a clear storyline. I need to explore much more possibilities for combining images with text – where images speak themselves and text then complements without losing some of the ambiguity that encourages the viewer to think for themselves.
Typography and use of different text styles that reflect the meaning of images.
Animation and interactive media – I experimented quite a bit with After Effects, Flash, Photoshop and Premiere. But have so far not been able to produce something that really reflects my vision. This is an area of work – together with interactive websites using javascript – that I would like to work more on at level 3.


Assignment 1 looks in more detail at my practice and personal voice underpinning my work in this course. To clarify what I need to do to translate my currently very diverse work and media experimentation from earlier OCA Visual Communications courses together with other professional skills from my consultancy work into a more coherent vision and creative visual approach as an illustrator.

1.1 Personal Statement

1.2 Skills and media

1.3 Creative process

1.4 What’s Next

Spirits of place

Assignment 2 looks at ideas of ‘place’ and further develops earlier projects that will be completed in Assignments 4 and 5:

  • Cambridge Diaries is an ongoing reportage project based on sketches from life in Cambridge. Based on work over the month of February, it revisits ‘Spirit of Place’ looking at how my underlying political vision of ‘Us Too’ affects how I would approach a brief to produce entertaining images for a commercial tourist market. It draws on cartooning traditions and drawing styles of illustrators like Scarfe, Searle, Briggs and selected Cambridge illustrators. It aims to significantly develop my sketching and cartooning skills, exploring the effects of different mark-making and media on the ‘message’ – including sketches in pencil, ink and crayon, paintings in watercolour and gouache, printmaking in different media, iPad drawings and photographs/collage. This work will then be further extended and developed in Assignment 5 Zemni 65.
  • Visible Cities uses collages of my photographs from Addis Ababa, Manila and London to create a series of single image narratives for each. It draws on the work of contemporary street photographers and urban illustrators and artists who have very different visions of city life. discussions in Street Photography and explores different ways of using and manipulating photographs as collages, some of which have a ‘simple message’, others a more complex narrative of contrasts and contradictions between more depressing and dystopian aspects of urban life with the energy and ingenuity of many of the people making their lives there. This work will be further extended and developed as on-line slideshows and printmaking, incorporating information and feedback from other people and disseminated through social media in Assignment 4 Documentary .


Assignment 3 looks at the ways in which different types of text and image can be used in combination to create deeper and/or contradictory meanings. Drawing on discussions around psychogeography and ‘Edgelands’:

  • River diaries use quick pencil sketches, iPhone photographs and text in a small sketchbook diary from my nearly daily walks along the River Cam in Cambridge recording my observations about people, changing landscape and my own thoughts about ‘Edgelands’. This will also incorporate collaged print-outs of ‘facts’ from internet and other documents as I look deeper into social and environmental issues arising from my live observations.
  • Where the Wild Things Roam will develop selected image/text combinations as small postcards and/or large giclee/photo screen/litho poster prints.


Assignment 4 builds on Assignment 2b, looking at ways, challenges (necessary) contributions of involving audiences in developing the outputs of Assignments 2 and 3 into more considered documentary form that communicates with the people I am hoping to reach.

It will:

  • develop selected photographs from journeys in Ethiopia, Philippines and Rwanda (from Book Design and Illustration 1) as a ‘real proof’ basis for overlaying of paint, drawing media and text as clarification, redaction and commentary
  • involve different audiences in design, feedback and dissemination: overseas colleagues (who can get feed back from local communities on the ground) and friends/OCA forums/social media networks (for information and frank artistic critique)
  • combine these images into on-line slideshow narratives posted on a You Tube channel and disseminated through social media like Facebook and Twitter as well as my blogs.

In the process the assignment will develop a model for audience participation in my illustrative practice that can be adapted for other projects in Assignment 5.

Zemni 65

I will be 65 in May 2019 and for a range of personal, health and professional reasons will now be much more UK-based. Reducing my travel and consultancy will also give me time to focus on my illustration practice as a more central part of my life.  This final Assignment will review what I now see as my ‘voice’ going forward, taking selected outputs from this and earlier Visual Communications modules to a more professional level for some sort of physical and/or on-line publication specific audiences and developing further project proposals for the final ‘Sustaining Your Practice’ module and beyond. Depending on how my work develops and feedback from different audiences and tutors, my work will focus to different degrees on the following ideas:

  • Cambridge Diaries as an ongoing project with Facebook page and/or blog and/or printed publication as a card series and/or book in collaboration with a tour guide friend
  • ‘Political prints’ in different media based on images from  Ethiopia, Philippines, Rwanda (Printmaking 1) and London and information from the audiences from Assignment 4. These will be added to and – together with updated posts on techniques and inspiration etc – extend outreach from my Printmaking blog (which currently reaches 1000 to 2000 views a month from all over the world without any explicit promotion)
  • Poems from the Edge a book and/or on-line series of After Effects vimeo publications setting images to well-known ‘English’ poems posing questions about ‘Edgelands’ – psychological as well as physical.  These will used selected material from Assignment 2 and re-worked inputs like Jabberwocky from Book Design 1 and Into the Edge from Illustration 2. The word ‘from’ meaning also possible future ways forward, as well as present and past.
  • Zemni 65 will extend and update ‘Life in White, Red, Black’ to include some earlier images and where I am now, using these as the basis for a Zemni logo for my ‘brand’.

Preliminary proposals for future in the final module and beyond as I become more UK-based:

  • ‘A to Z of Love and Sex’  completely redoing images based on ideas from ‘A to Z from Armageddon to playfully/deeply question attitudes and relationships from a feminist/’Us Too’/post-modern perspective
  • ‘Ramblings for a green and pleasant land’ series based on ideas and styles developed in Assignment 2 using walks from elsewhere in Britain as alternative socially and environmentally questioning walk guides.