Story

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked: ‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’ His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson: I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’ Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special. ‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’ ‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’ ‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’ ‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person. ‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’ ‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’ ‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’ source: “Like the Flowing River” by Paulo Coelho

In the beginning of our “Story” part of the year, we were asked to choose a story and work with it until the end of term 1. We had to retell it in a variety of formats over the weeks and see how it changes.


As an example we were given the famous story of Romeo and Juliet which has inspired many artists to alter it according their own perspective and taste. It exists as a play, infographic, text of play, west side story, musical, animation, ballet, music, films… Afterwards, in order to structure our thoughts and improve the understanding of the word “story”, we accepted the idea that each story/film is related to one of the following 7 categories. We thought about  the movies we had watched, discussed their relation to these categories and gave examples:

  • Overcoming the monster (Hero must defeat the evil) – Taken
  • Rags to Riches (Modest/poor person becomes rich, acquires wealth/happiness) -Charlie and the Chocolate factory, Cinderella, Anastasia
  • The Quest (Hero in search for treasure, sidekicks and temptations along the way) -Prince of Persia
  • Voyage and Return (Venture to a new world, struggle to return, out of body experience) -Butterfly effect, The Beach, Mr. Nobody, Narnia, Avatar
  • Comedy (Not necessarily humorous, sort of confession) -Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shrek
  • Tragedy (Central figure is a protagonist with an evil influence, whose death is a happy ending) -Blow
  • Rebirth (Opposite of tragedy – protagonist is villain, but redeems himself over the course of the story, becomes enlightened ) -The Shawshank Redemption

I felt a real urge to watch a movie after this session. 🙂


Bookmaking workshop with Sarah Edmonds
DSC_0462
1) Discussion about books.

What format can a book take?

  • digital/e-book
  • waterproof
  • different paper (handmade, etc.)
  • stone (ancient)
  • hand written (calligraphy)
  • flipbook
  • pop up book
  • ring bound
  • comic
  • graphic novel
  • audiobook
  • picture book
  • ARTIST BOOK – often limited run of books that are a precious, limited work of art.

What does a book contain?

  • information
  • entertainment
  • inspiration
  • words
  • images
  • messages
  • ideas
  • stories (fiction/non-fiction)
  • discussions
  • moral/folk tales
  • directions/instructions
  • new ways of thinking, different pespectives
  • recipes
  • arguments
  • music
  • investigations
  • imagination
  • journeys
  • emotions

2) Bookmaking
…easier than expected.

Simple books & Stitches
Simple books & Stitches

First book: Alphabet Simple concertina. DSC_0486m DSC_0491 DSC_0494
Second book: Mini sketchbook Hard covers, 3 hole pamphlet stitch.
DSC_0451mDSC_0456mDSC_0471mDSC_0462


Visual Narrative

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked: ‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’ His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:  I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’ Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special. ‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’ ‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’ ‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’  ‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person. ‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’  ‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’  ‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’ source: “Like the Flowing River” by Paulo Coelho
You can re-read the story in the beginning of this post.

Task: retell the story visually using only drawings in 2 hours.
When trying to choose which story to work with I wanted to challenge myself. I didn’t want to pick a story everybody had heard of – thus I wouldn’t be sure if I had comlpeted the task properly. I didn’t want well known characters neither. Furthermore, I didn’t choose a story which fits in the 7 plots discussed earlier. It would have been too easy and I felt experimental that day. I wanted a more metaphorical, symbolic story. The first mistake I made was that I started working on A4 paper , thinking that this would be my rough sketch. Instead, I started detailing subconsciously and attached another A4 sheet to add more space. That made my work invisibe among the A2 sheets. Even though I worked only for the structure of the story and not the presentation part of it, I noticed that size matters. The way you show your work is just as important as the content. Sadly only a few pieces of work impressed me as most people undertook similar approaches to this task – storyboard (but without defined boxes).  However, I believe that all of us will do better next time when we try to do something like that. Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.


Handmade artist book with our chosen story

I wanted to surprise the reader.

The format I decided to use is based on what you see when you look out of the window. Every time I look out of it, I want to be able to see further. So the journey of this book starts when you open the window and continues in the depth of distance. If you take a closer look, you will notice that each “frame” exists as a detail in the previous one. I imagined that I am able to jump from where I am to where I choose in the distance. And hopefully I gave these superpowers to all those people who went through the pages of my book:) It finishes with a postbox, where the moral of the story is situated.

Artist book plan
Artist book plan

Here is a taste of it:
DSC_0425 DSC_0425mmmDSC_0449aDSC_0248aDSC_0271aDSC_0259a


Digital Book Working with our chosen story for the third time, our task was to convert it to a digital book. Back in high school I didn’t enjoy being taught CSS and HTML because they are boring and too theoretical (until you realize what superpowers they give you!). However, having previously worked with the harder version of text hierarchy and structuring information, the simple visual environment of InDesign was not a problem for me. I found this experience useful because I acquired even more knowledge concerning the functions of this magical software called InDesign which makes a plenty of commands and operations look and feel like a piece of pie. I am going to upload my book soon.


Animation I went trough several states of mind during the two weeks given to us to complete this project (create a video, the use of software and media depends on your preferences )
First- wow easy task, not even that hard, I could do it  if I work hard enough…I felt really excited. I even went to the library and borrowed a book about storyboards. Never opened it twice. Don’t tell anyone.
Second – (after I started the real work) – that’s impossible to complete in less than two weeks, is the problem in me?,  panic (after hours of research on software and watching animations)
Third – weeheeee that is such an exciting project, even though I am perfectly aware of the fact that I will not manage to finish my animation. After experiencing how time consuming and skill requiring it is, I appreciate animation (especially hand painted) even more as well as the effort put in it by artists.
So here is the outcome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvGQNrN0qMU

This project reminded me of the time when I participated as a volunteer for the World Festival of Animated Film in my home city in Bulgaria. My mother told me I was wasting my time. HA !

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