Heroes and Villains (summer project)

I have been given a level 5 summer project called ‘Heroes and Villains’, the brief is asking me to investigate the idea of heroes and villains. It is a research project and I am expected to create at least one A4 sketchbook of research which has to be primarily visual in character. The second outcome is to create something to be sold at the Brighton Illustration Fair in October, such as a zine, print, badge, sticker or t-shirt.

So far I have been working in an A4 sketchbook and have mainly been focusing on the concepts and notions of good and bad.  I started off looking towards the morality side of good and bad and philosophy. Through a quote from a book, I was led to parasites (an organism which lives in or on another organist (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense). This led me towards the idea of predators and prey in relation to parasites. I then moved back towards the direct hero and villain theme, exploring the idea of ‘everyday heroes’. This resulted in the birth of the milkman.

I took this illustration and turned it digital using both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

I enjoy him as a character, what are his crimes? does he put things in the milk? does he only have one hand? why are the milk bottles all different sizes? where are his legs? who took his pupils?.. a questionable fella.

*just typing that made led me to create this:

I produced this GIF from an illustration in my sketchbook. I’ve titled it ‘the subliminal milkman’

Anyway, I then started to look more towards context as a signifier of good and bad. For example:

This led me to create a short comic strip following on from the above stabbing and featuring the Milkman (as a jail guard?)

(purposefully sloppy colouring skills before you think I have no eyes)

I don’t really like the first frame because it just looks dumb to me, but I really like the second frame as I think I’ve used perspective in a very simple but effective way.

I then took a step back to vagueness and the idea of something being good and another thing being bad.


Subjectivity in relation to things being either good or bad. I then explored the notion of being able to tell if someone is good or bad, which is something nearing impossible (unless they have a badge or sticker) *this is quite a good idea as an object to sell at the BIF*

I then explored the concept of balancing out bad with good, as though they cancel each other out. I briefly touched upon the concept of good actions having negative consequences.

I drifted into morality and sanity in context to goodness and badness, watching documentaries about the history of mental asylums (starting in the victorian era), outdated treatment, laws and rules innocent people faced at the hands of being misunderstood and criminalised.

This merged back into the idea of people being either good or bad and how to spot them, creating fictional (or not) methods and reasons such as ‘bad people always blink with their left eye first’ and ‘if they always stand up after sitting down then you might be onto something’. I enjoy these statements as they reflect the nature of the question, there is no inherent and universal way of spotting if someone is good or bad.

From this I danced with the conclusion that anything can be good or bad.

I then suddenly decided to look at repetition, particularly influenced after seeing something on Instagram by an artist I follow:

I shortly diverted back towards the importance of context writing ‘you only know something is bad when it’s next to something good’ (which I guess can be linked to repetition) and that brings me to where I am now.

Writing about and looking back over what I have done, I can see that I have pretty much cornered in with taking the concepts of good and bad from the theme of heroes and villains, and have been narrowing it down in different ways. I have tied down different concepts for myself to explore which is probably the next step to start churning more imagery out and to work towards creating sellable goods.

In terms of what I will be selling at the BIF (Brighton Illustration Fair) I produced 30 odd copies of an A5 print derived from an illustration in my sketchbook. It dances with the concept of good and bad, applied to the context of hats. I asked myself, is there such a thing as good hats and bad hats? and this was the outcome:

Over the course of the weekend, I both browsed and was browsed. I helped out manning our level 5 illustration stall and went to a talk by David Shrigley, in which I got the opportunity to meet him and gave him one of my prints. He offered a slice of cake in exchange, but I politely declined. I sold loads of my prints and made a fair amount of profit, breaking even with extra. I priced my prints at £1. Some would say this is too cheap for all that has gone into the design, however I combat that with the point of it didn’t cost that much to print and package, also I’m more concerned with getting my work out there at this point than raking in a massive profit. Also, I asked myself how much I’d like to pay for an A5 print at an event like this, and so I believed I priced it correctly.

After the event, I got tagged on an Instagram post with my print! It chuffed me right up!

The print is available to purchase on my website here

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