Heroes and Villians Part 2

My most recent project is a follow up of the summer project titled ‘Heroes and Villains’. For this project, I have to analyse what makes a personal hero. I have been asked to explore my own relationship with my personal hero and document this in my sketchbook, leading to producing an outcome which is to create an A3 poster celebrating the hero, along with a separate square image.

Right from the beginning I wanted to pursue my hero in terms of an object rather then a person. This is because I feel like when idolising a person it is based on fantasy. When admired to the point where they become a hero all of their negative qualities etc are forgotten. They become idealised. I believe this is partially to do with the gap between the admirer and the admired, which tends to be someone of celebrity status. This mental depiction of a hero has no negative qualities and that is what is admired. So when you hear/ read about something terrible they have done, your admiration crumbles into a mix of strange emotions. You can’t understand why they’d do that?! Maybe someday you’ll realise you bridged the gap of not knowing that person personally with strange idealised fantasies, perhaps a projection of your own insecurities and desirable traits, but until that day comes you will in fact feel cheated and miserable. Meanwhile, objects are real and they exist. They are a constant and grounding state, we take and give them what we want, but we always know that they are simply objects.

I started off the project by opening my sketchbook and going to town. Drawing and presenting things I usually would, but this time I would question much deeper. I tend to draw things that I like. Not all the time I’ll like a drawing that I do. There are recurring things that I like to draw. These are things which I questioned. After dancing around I had an idea to pursue a pint of beer; Estrella. I produced imagery and text relating to it, but found that I didn’t really like the direction it was heading so I decided to bounce back to exploring the objects which I like. I then had the idea to explore the imagery of nails (something which I had drawn on the very first page of the sketchbook without realising).

Nails. Why?

This is what I explored and am still exploring. In terms of asking simply why, I’ve managed to conclude a few points:

  • They stay until they don’t
  • They provide unity between objects
  • They are symbolic of big things being held together by small things
  • They exist as a tool, a solution, a means
  • They are strong and resistant

I wrote a relatively free associative list of words and such:

Admiration of nails, undervalued heroes, community of nails, screws fit nails hold, imposing, defensive, strong, pointy, penetrates, safety, positive, negative, holds, together, binding, solid, structure, shape, hard, great, sound, pretty, one, unit, singular, brittle, bends, damage, chipped, force, rusts, breaks, snaps, tool, object, utilised, used, historic, known, part, binds, transforms, important, vital, construction, key, weapon, hurt, potential, set,  makes, friendly, vulgar, intimidating, alone, singular, force, army, society, community, hold, grey, simple, replaceable, cheap, keep, sort, order, instant, fix, create, quick, achieved, sturdy, neglected, texture, security, offensive.

I found that I am definitely personifying the object, I see it as a positive symbol of strength and resilience, characteristics which I admire.

I saw the Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains over the summer break, and I often listen to Floyd while I work. This is relevant as in the film The Wall, released in 1982 and based on both albums, is a rock opera written by Roger Waters.


It explores the storyline of a protagonist called Pink whose father dies in the Second World War and is oppressed by an overprotective mother, and tormented by abusive teachers. Each of these traumas becoming ‘bricks in the wall’. He eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships rife with infidelity, drugs and outbursts of violence. Once the wall is complete, he is completely isolated from human contact, and sinks into depression. In order to perform, he is medicated, resulting in an hallucinatory on-stage performance where he is a facist dictator (similar to Neo-Nazi rallies), where he targets people he believes to be unworthy. Upon realising what he has done he returns to human emotion and subsequently puts himself on trial, where the wall is eventually teared down, opening him up to the outside world.

The Trail:

When exploring the concept of Nails, I subsequently started thinking about their counterpart: hammers. This immediately led me to Floyd, as hammer imagery is used throughout The Wall. Hammers are used to symbolise oppression, brutality and destruction, specifically The Nazis during the Second World War. Nails are referenced as people, which can be heard within the above song The Trail when The School Master says to the Judge ‘let me hammer him today’ before he himself morphs into a hammer.

The film was vividly animated and illustrated by Gerald Scarfe, who used a lot of symbolism and intricate imagery which I admire very much.


This is the point I am up to now – I am still exploring nails, and I’ve placed it into context of another thing which I admire, thus strengthening the personal connection.  I feel like as I am exploring objects instead of a person/people of admiration, I’ve naturally stripped it down to the characteristics and uses of the objects. I’ve found that I am personifying the objects, giving them human qualities, almost making them into people, which I find interesting. I think it may have something to do with the permanence of objects in relation to people. The simplicity they hold. They have a designed purpose. I think this is something I find reassuring. Meanwhile, the purpose of people is a widely discussed and theorised debate. Surely our purpose is to live as that is why we were born. But there must be a reason, we must have been designed for something. Spooky.






I have since completed the project, this is my final poster:

When trying to create the poster and going over the work that I had created throughout the project, I realised that I had in fact already created the poster without realising. I feel confident that this image successfully represents and explains the reasons behind why I enjoy nails. The text was written using a nail and ink and is a digitised version of a page from my sketchbook.

Upon speaking to a tutor, I am also creating a Nail Zine to accompany this poster. Below are scans from my sketchbook of this project.


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