Zemni Illustration

I am an illustrator, printmaker and photographer based in Cambridge, UK.

Image-making is a necessary part of my own process of making sense of life in our sometimes beautiful, but often insane world. In my ‘parallel life’ as global consultant in participatory development in Africa, Asia and Latin America I meet many wonderful, inspiring people. I see stunningly beautiful scenery – human rural and urban landscapes as well as ‘wild natural’ remote environments. I also see many shocking examples of violence, exploitation, environmental degradation, waste and powerlessness. The more I travel, the more questions I bring back about life at home  – where are our ‘developed’ lives trying to get to, why and at what cost? My image-making is a way of working through the darker side to come out the other end and ‘look on the bright side of life’.

 I work in a range of media combining drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, painting and digital media. Some of my work is experimental, exploring different media and effects in response to a wide range of briefs.

Alongside my own artistic practice I support processes for collaborative art, photography, video and web communications as part of peoples’ own documentation of their lives.

Zemni Illustration blog brings together my work, research and thoughts for Open College of the Arts Visual Communications level 3 module: Advanced Practice. My work for this module focuses on the theme of ‘Documentary: observed and reflected. It aims to :

  • explore what might be meant by my distinctive ‘Zemni Voice’ with a socio-political approach to reportage, landscape and life sketching.
  • establish professional-standard technical skills in a range of physical (drawing, painting and printmaking) and digital media (photography, Photoshop and NikFX, iPad painting and video animation in Adobe After Effects and Premiere).
  • look at a range of ways of integrating text and image to produce images that question established ways of seeing and thinking
  • explore a range of different international and home audiences, markets and social networks for my work.
  • present my work in different formats:  cards, large posters and fine art prints, collaged books and on-line animated and interactive experiences.

1: Voice: Documentary observed and reflected

Assignment 1 looks in more detail at my practice and personal voice underpinning my work in this course.

2: Edit and Amend: Zemni Documentary (April 2019)

Assignment 2 focuses on ‘documentary at home’ in Cambridge and East Anglia, looking at how an ‘alternative Zemni voice’ might affect how I portray the world where I live, including re-packaging the message as ‘playfully poignant’ images for a tourist market.

3: Image and Text: Spanish Diary (October 2019)

Assignment 3 aims to produce a ‘Dan Eldon’-style narrative of collaged images and text on some of the current challenges for economic development and democracy in Ethiopia. It builds on and significantly extends my final assignment for Illustration 2 and will also consider different formats: printed book, on-line interactive pdf and on-line video. 

4: Audience: Kyrgyzstan dreams and realities (December 2019)

Assignment 4 will continue my visual exploration of media and styles, contrasting dreams and realities of gender, cultural identity and environment in Kyrgyzstan. It will build on a series of better quality colour and black and white photographs, together with information from colleagues on the ground and secondary sources.

5: Presenting my work: Zemni 2020

This final Assignment will review my ‘Zemni voice’ in the light of work during this module and the Visual Research Module,

5.1 Re-assessing my practice and finishing my work will review and revise the outputs from Assignments 2-4 in the light of feedback and reach some conclusions about the best forms of presentation/ changes I still need to make/further possibilities to reach a wider range of audience. I envisage animated tasters for the work to be developed in After Effects on the new Zemni You Tube channel.

5.2 Further development 

  • ‘Wish You Were here’ will aim to extend possibilities for work in UK through on a new series of attractive, amusing and thought-provoking iPad images and fine art prints around: ‘Wish You Were Here’  based on holidays in England. This builds on earlier illustration, printmaking and book design  projects on Cornwall, Peak District and East Anglia.  The project will focus on a set of card series, but will also develop proposals for how I might extend this into eg Walking Guides and/or short books for the UK tourist market and card series elsewhere.
  • ‘Tales from the Edge’ will look at ways of developing some of my more imaginative work from ‘found texture narratives’ as a book of short pieces and/or After Effects experiences on the new Zemni You Tube channel.
  • 5.3 Talking about my practice: portfolio In addition to finalising the current blog, I will add relevant material from this module and other audience-relevant information to:
  • zemniimages.info portfolio blog – this would review and update my current overview of my work.

I will also produce a much simplified and streamlined portfolio for a dedicated new Adobe Portfolio site.

  • 5.3 Self Promotion and presenting my practice : in addition to continuing to circulate on social networks for different media on Facebook and exploring the links in Exercise 4.3, I will add relevant material from this module and other audience-relevant information to:
  • zemniimages printmaking blog  (currently 1-2,000 visitors a month) – this would add further details of printmaking techniques based on my work in this module. Many of my visitors visit the site through links to technical information and information on other printmakers.
  • zemniimages.com my professional SMUGMUG website which currently mainly houses archives of my photography.
  • After Effects tasters on a new Zemni You Tube Channel.

I will send selected work to the various on-line commercial card and print marketing sites, and approach some of the card and book shops in Cambridge and East Anglia.

Other blogs and websites

This Zemni Illustration blog complements and links to my other blogs and websites:

  • Zemni Images blog a portfolio site which showcases the best work from my previous and current Visual Communications courses.
  • Visual Communication for Development  looking at issues in my professional work in international development  for the OCA Visual  Research course.
  • Zemni Printmaking being developed and updated from my OCA printmaking courses.
  • Zemni Photography from OCA photography courses I tool as a leisure student
  • Zemni Images professional website which houses high resolution images of my Visual Communications portfolios and my photography portfolios and archives.
  • Gamechange Network consultancy blog which houses and links outputs from the different projects and partners I have worked with.