Thursday, 23 April 2009

guest lecture: Andy Pavitt 2

Andy Pavitt talks about Big Orange.

I can barely read my own notes for this mini lecture. A lot of it looks like it was written backwards. Entire lines took apparently a second to scrawl out.

I have a pretty clear image in my head of Andy Pavitt. The first time he came to speak to us Pete commented how he had the atypical look of an illustrator. So I drew a little picture of him, from memory, before he turned up. I got Pete and Dave to do the same.

Mine was fairly inaccurate. Pete’s involved a swastika.

Andy Pavitt spoke here once before, in our second year. That talk was about his work and influences and rather than repeat that he opted to talk more or less exclusively about life at Big Orange, a well renowned illustration studio based in London.

There is also mention of an internship down there for two students. That’s kind of a buzz word for me. The idea of being an “intern” makes me a little sick. But the internship down there sounds genuinely great and I start thinking about whether or not I want to be an illustrator. Then I started thinking about my life in general, trying to plan around what I assumed would be an epic undertaking in London, perhaps lasting months. I don’t want to live in London, I can’t afford to. It would screw up literally all of my plans.

I realised I was getting ahead of myself. The internship would only be for a week. I could afford it, probably. It would be do able. And it sounded like it would be the best possible way to get started as an illustrator given the amount of experience and contacts that would be available. I wonder how I’d react in a situation like that; if I’d let it slip through my fingers like a fool. Or maybe I’d have a characteristic mood swing and throw myself into it with the awesome force of a flaming zeppelin. Maybe, probably, there’re others in the class who would benefit more.

Pavitt has been at that studio 7 years. It has been around for 15 or 16 years and was started by a few RCA graduates including Andy Something (I genuinely cannot read this name, maybe Lovell?) and Darryl Rees who runs the prestigious Heart Agency.

The space is large carrying, at it’s peak, 18 illustrators.

Now it’s split in two with the AOI taking up half. We (me, Pete, Dave, Kachia, Sarah) actually saw this in person, AOI people doing AOI stuff. One grenade and it’s all over Pete said about that when we were right there looking at them.

The AOI help pay the studio rent and other bonuses to Big Orange include: free membership to the AOI (Andy Pavitt says this is cheeky) and they get free advice about prices for illustration and contracts and the like. The AOI, basically, are good guys.

The studio sounds good. The rent is split between all the illustrators there. The rent, cost of which we’re getting to, pays for cleaning, phones and an up to speed computer network as well as other fanciful London things like, presumably, robots (unconfirmed).

Advantage: there’s a mix of illustrators there for you to bounce ideas off. Everyone has doubts about their own work, according to Pavitt (who seems like an extremely earnest guy, very personable), and you can quickly get other opinions with a lot of experience behind them.

Location is important, but not everything. Big Orange is in trendy Shoreditch, inhabited by haircut warriors I learned to quickly despise when I was there.

When they moved in there it was a ghost town. There are some good galleries and studio/shops around there now though.

QUESTIONS. I put my hand up.

Maybe this will sound cold, I say, like an idiot, but what does the rent cost?

Pete says something unintelligible. He's telling me, I later find out, that Andy Pavitt already mentioned the cost.

Andy Pavitt repeats: £200 a month.

Of course he already said that. I have this problem with numbers. As soon as I see them on a page I skip them. As soon as I begin to hear them my mind goes blank. I just can’t deal with them. They almost don’t exist for me. It does get me into a lot of trouble.

By contrast Rose’s studio costs £50 a month. But it sounds like a send up of a “Northern Art Studio” with lots of damp and no heating and etc. But maybe I could dig that.

Pete and Dave are thinking about getting a studio in town and I would be up for that, except I will definitely never have any money ever again. So if they literally mean a shoebox, as in using a shoebox as a studio, maybe I could stretch to that. But what would be the point? I mean it’d be a shoebox.

PAVITT, A., talks about name dropping Big Orange. Not everyone knows his name but he can say I work at Big Orange and everything clicks into place. This would be another advantage to doing an internship there, GODDAMNIT.

On sharing contacts: Some people are more generous than others. I’ve written: respect this. Presumably in relation to the sentence that went before.

Big Orange is open 24 hours a day, perhaps because everyone there has a key? I don’t know! I DON’T KNOW.

It’s not common. Someone that works there, “Toby”, sometimes comes in early, 5 am or so, to work. Sometimes he’ll be out drinking til 2, then he’ll drop in to do his work and fall asleep on the sofa all day which sounds like something I’d do.

Art Directors don’t really care how the work gets done. Often you’ll get 2 day briefs and you’ll have to work really hard and fast at ridiculous hours to get them done. Like jobs from out of the UK. Apparently New York art directors are the worst for this, having (either consciously or not) no comprehension of time zones. They call you at 11pm and expect you to have the work done in 12 hours.

Art directors apparently sometimes think giving out a job is a privilege for illustrators, like they’re doing you a favour. The Guardian is meant to be bad for this.

So disadvantages to working in a studio: if you get BAD DYNAMISM it is BAD. If someone “takes over” a bit too much.

So it seems like the internship is the way forward and I’m thinking about that when I realize very clearly that I want to go surfing.

I wonder if I have some kind of weird synaesthesia where instead of mixing up sensory information with other sensory data I’m mixing up my sensory stimulation with other desires. The desire to get ahead in illustration leads me to want to be a surfer.

A surfer.

1 comment:

Pete Adlington said...

I have come off very badly in this. I am an unintelligible, grenade weilding nazi. Accept me or die.