Category Archives: Constellation

Dissertation Reflection (PDP)

When deciding on what to write about for my dissertation I did not know what to choose, I knew it had to be something I was interested in but also something that I did not t know too much about so it kept it exciting for me to research and learn about. I had always enjoyed graffiti in-particular the artist known as Banksy but never really understood how Banksy went from a no good illegal graffiti artist to a worldwide phenomenon and why some graffiti is praised by the public yet other pieces are frowned upon and removed straight away. As an illustrator graffiti fits in with what I do myself as I am trying to communicate through images just like graffiti artists attempt to do. I like to make my work eye-catching and graffiti is all about grabbing the public’s attention so I thought that this subject would be brilliant to help me gain a better understanding of how to make my own art communicate as best as possible. I decided that this topic would be perfect and decided that I’d discuss whether graffiti should either be considered as vandalism or whether it is art and what exactly causes different pieces of graffiti to be considered as one or the other. At first I kept it as a general discussion but after one of my dissertation meetings it was agreed that a main focus area would be beneficial and possibly more interesting to me personally. I decided to choose Bristol as my main focus as it is quite close to where I live and I know that their views on graffiti are quite interesting especially considering that Banksy is from there. Unfortunately for me Bristol’s graffiti policy was currently being updated and after contacting Bristol council I could not get my hands on the policy which would be a major talking point in my dissertation so I decided to focus on Cardiff instead.

To start off I decided to get as much research done as possible writing down quotes and areas of interest as I went. Knowing that these quotes would be extremely important for my dissertation I decided to not only put them all into a Word document but also categorize them using different colours so that I could find quotes a lot easier when writing certain sections. I started my research in the library where I found a lot of great material that fitted in perfectly with my topic, graffiti as a whole was very easy to research and gather information about, vandalism on the other hand was a bit more challenging and meant reading through laws and legislations. I have never been a big reader and knew that reading through the books would be quite challenging for me personally so I decided to get that over and done with first. I found that to really focus I had to lock myself away in my room with no noise as I tend to find it hard to focus whilst reading, this approach really helped me get through books quickly. After reading through some books I already had a great range of useable quotes but did not have much on Cardiff so moved to newspaper articles which were great as they had local news about Cardiff and surrounding areas. As well as articles I found a few videos that related to my topic which felt like a nice break from reading and meant I could chill out with a notepad and jot down a few quotes whilst watching them.

Throughout my research it was really interesting to read different opinions on graffiti from a range of different sources and it made me question what I thought about graffiti too. I have always been a fan of graffiti but after my research my opinions changed slightly,  I had always thought of graffiti as artistic graphics on walls but then of course random name scribbles and aerosol paint with no real meaning other than to destroy property would also be considered as graffiti. It was nice to discover that there are a lot of graffiti artists that take pride in what they do and create their art to brighten up places and make them look better, which I must admit I agree with completely. I have always thought that a plain wall could have so much potential in the hands of a talented graffiti artist.

After a lot of research was done I started to write my dissertation, breaking it all into different sections to help me keep track of what I was doing. I surprisingly found writing my dissertation a lot easier than expected, as I had a lot of quotes it was a simple task of slotting them in and expanding on each with my own thoughts and feelings. In my subject work I have always found it easier to break up my artwork into different stages so I can keep on top of it all and this same approach really helped me in managing what would have otherwise been a really big task.

Although researching was sometimes a struggle for me to get into, overall writing my dissertation has really helped me to understand just how important research is and has also helped me understand how to make a balanced discussion on a specific topic. I have learnt a lot about graffiti but more importantly writing my dissertation on graffiti has helped me understand that what may be considered as good artwork really just comes to personal taste and not everyone is going to like what I do, I think as an illustrator this is really important to remember although I will always try to make my work appeal to as many people as possible.


Close to finishing my dissertation!

grafI’m getting very close to completing my dissertation which is great news because it means I’ll be able to completely focus on my subject work once it’s completed.

When I first started my dissertation I actually found it quite easy as I had lots of ideas and a lot of quotes to help support my work but as I got to around 8000 words I started to struggle. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I was running out of things to say and my research started to get quite thin, luckily I managed to get back into it once I saw that I wasn’t too far away from completing the last section.

Although I felt I had enough research I found myself having to go back to reading a few new books to find some supporting quotes for some new material that I’ve decided to add which includes new information on the future of graffiti. It was quite hard to find out what the future of graffiti might include but I found that technology has started to become quite a big factor in graffiti just like it has done in all other kinds of art.

To make it easier to handle I split up my dissertation before I began and I’m happy to report that I’ve completed each section and all that I need to do now is read through it all and add little bits that I feel need bulking up a bit. I feel that splitting my dissertation up has really helped with handling all of the writing needed to be done and has helped me manage my time more.

I will now read through my whole dissertation and jot down things I believe need adding as I read through. This should provide enough extra content to get be up to and possibly even beyond the 10,000 target.

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My dissertation has been going quite well, feedback from my recent draft was positive and it looks like I’m heading in the right direction. I was told to focus on a certain area rather than try to answer the question as to whether graffiti should be seen as art or vandalism in general. My first thoughts was to focus on Bristol as they have a large graffiti background but after finding that their graffiti policy is outdated and is currently being updated I decided to move my focus onto Cardiff.

Research into Cardiff graffiti culture was harder to find and most sources were found on the internet but I’ve found enough for my dissertation. I’ve actually learnt a lot about Cardiff’s graffiti background and didn’t know that there are actually graffiti festivals held in Cardiff like Empty Walls Street Art Festival. Pictured below is one of the commissions created during the last Empty Walls Festival.


I believe I have enough research so all I need to do now is write it all up. Currently I’m around half way and am going to dedicate a couple of days a week to doing my dissertation so I can complete it early just in case any final revisions need to be made.


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Dissertation Proposal Complete

After working hard to not only find a subject that interests me enough to research and write 10,000 words on but also after reading lots of different books, journals and articles to find relevant quotes I’ve finally completed my dissertation proposal.

The hardest part was finding relevant books that would give me useful information and quoting text but once I’d built up a mini library of quotes writing the proposal wasn’t too hard. I think breaking up the proposal into smaller sections helped me a lot to keep on top of what I was doing and what I needed to write about and I’m definitely planning on doing the same for my actual dissertation. I personally have never felt that good at writing but once I broke apart the sections bit by bit I found it a lot easier to deal with.

My plan now is to continue reading books and building up my library of quotes until I feel I have enough to start writing my dissertation. I’d rather do it this way than have to keep stopping in my work to read through books to find a quote for a certain section of my dissertation. If I do my dissertation section by section I’m sure I can quite easily fulfil the minimum 10,000 word count and will probably find that I have enough research to continue writing a lot more.

I’m glad that I’ve chosen the topic of graffiti being either art or vandalism because it does really interest me and over the past few weeks I’ve actually quite enjoyed learning about the art movement and the difference opinions that come with it.

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Dissertation Proposal – Writing

The dissertation proposal structure we were given made it really easy to break up what we needed to write about and what to include. As I’ve been reading books to find quotes and learn more about graffiti and vandalism I’ve also been filling in sections of the proposal, most of which are complete now.

The background reading section is the largest section of the proposal and to make this easier I’ve broken this up into sections. I believe I have enough background reading now and I’ve gather a good range of quotes that show both sides of my discussion from many different authors. I decided to colour code my quotes so that they are easier to search through when I need a specific kind of quote. I’ve used different colour fonts for quotes for and against graffiti as well as different colours for historical facts and the difference between graffiti and so called street art. Doing this has made it a lot easier to look through my list of quotes and find one that fits in well with what I’m currently writing about.

For my background reading I’ve decided to separate it into past, present and future opinions and movements of graffiti culture. I’ve got a lot of information that will quite easily fill up this section of my proposal and should easily make it over the 2000 word minimum word target. As well as quotes I’ve also found an image that I’d like to include which is of a McDonalad’s street advert that uses graffiti to advertise it’s brand in a positive light. I feel this image is quite an interesting one to include as it shows how graffiti can be successfully used in advertising and in some ways shows how it’s accepted in some forms.



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Dissertation Proposal -Structure

This week I’ve been reading through some books and planning out the structure of my dissertation. I’ve found a lot of books on graffiti and why it’s a good thing but not so much on people who are against the art movement. I plan on looking into journals and maybe some articles to find more on why graffiti should be seen as vandalism to give my work a more balanced view.

As I’ve been reading through the books I’ve started to write down quotes and Harvard reference them as I go so that if I need them in the future they will already have all the information needed for me to include them in my dissertation. I decided to do this after I wrote down a quote that I felt was really good but then forgot to write where I found it too and spent 15 minutes hunting down the quote again which wasted a lot of my time and could have been put into actually writing my proposal. I hope to build a large collection of quotes that I can refer back to when I start my dissertation later on this year.

It’s been really interesting so far seeing what people IMG_0491-500x450think about graffiti and how a lot of people contradict another persons views completely. So far it seems that graffiti as art or vandalism is very much a personal opinion but the government are very much against the art movement. Saying this some places have put up graffiti walls around cities in which people are allowed to legally graffiti on so it’s quite interesting to see how the fight against graffiti is being handled.

Structure wise I’ve decided to break up my dissertation into easy to manage topics so that I personally find it easier to write about and keep track of how I’m doing. I’m planning on first looking into the history of graffiti, then both the definition on graffiti and the definition of vandalism to build up some  background knowledge behind both sides of my discussion. I will then discuss how graffiti is seen nowadays, what the future may hold and finally conclude with my own personal opinion. As I write each section I will make sure to balance the argument for graffiti and against graffiti to make a balanced discussion before I finally come up with my own conclusion to the question.


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Dissertation Proposal

At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write my dissertation on, I wanted something that I found interesting but something that I didn’t already know lots about so I wouldn’t get bored of researching and writing about the subject.

I’ve always enjoyed graffiti and after Banksy visited my hometown of Weston Super Mare last year for his instalment of Dismaland I thought looking into Banksy more could be quite interesting. Something that always baffled me was how Banksy was seen by many as a hero and artist by many but other graffiti artists were seen extremely negatively and were very much associated with breaking the law and vandalising. Banksy’s work could be sold for thousands no matter where it was yet other graffiti artists would see there work removed in a matter of weeks. This was the start of how I came up with my idea for my dissertation.

At first I thought about basing my dissertation entirely on Banksy and digging deeper into how he is seen to be different from other graffiti artists but then I thought that I would probably struggle to write a good 10,000 words on that and thought that I’d have to spread out more. I then decided to take Banksy as an example and look into how some graffiti artists are looked at and dealt with differently to others. I didn’t really understand how one piece of graffiti can differ from another if they are both illegally placed without the property owners permission and wanted to look into this more.


After a few days of playing around with words I came up with the title ‘Graffiti – Art or vandalism?’. I plan on looking into why some graffiti is seen as art by some yet also see as vandalism and frowned upon by others. I want to understand what makes graffiti so bad, is it the placement, the content, the colours, or does it just not fit in with its surroundings? I believe that this subject is not only interesting for me but I think researching into it more will answer a lot of questions that I’ve had for a while and I think this is the perfect time to find answers to them.

To start with I’m going to research into the history of graffiti and find out where it all began but before that I want to plan out my dissertation structure so I know what to look for when I’m reading through books and articles. This way I can start gathering quotes which can be used for my proposal and my final dissertation.

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Writing the essay

For my essay I’ve decided to write about the white walkers on the TV series Game of Thrones. I went through quite a few different ideas but decided to go with white walkers as I was inspired by the teaser video for the new Game of Thrones season started next year.

The white walkers have all the characteristics of a monster, they are dead but yet still alive, they expose what we don’t want exposed for example the bodies insides and they have a emotionless with all the emphasis put on the body of the monster.

My first idea was to approach the concept of glamour and write about Zoolander and how he portrays glamorous models in a jokey light hearted but I after a while I felt that doing it on monsters would be more engaging for me personally.

I’ve learnt a lot about glamorous and monstrous qualities and feel that writing a 500 word essay should be quite easy especially if I can find a good photo to analyse.

When I look at monsters now I realise everything we learnt in Cath’s talks were true and I start to take the monster apart bit by bit. I’m not a massive horror genre fan but it’s interesting to discover what concepts cause the reacts I make when I watch a horror film and why I find them so disturbing.

Thinking about if we excepted the idea that we do leak and our body isn’t impenetrable I think we’d find it a lot easier when we see the image of a monster and it wouldn’t bother us half as much but instead we’ve decided to censor ourselves and deny the natural body.

It’s crazy to think that we’re now obsessed with hiding our body of it’s natural functions such as sweating and smelling every day. We plaster ourselves in makeup to hide any imperfections and it’s not just women it’s us men as well, moisturising to fix dry skin, fake tanning to look more bronzed and less pale and even using face masks to tighten our skin.

Nothing is natural anymore and I think we’ve gone a bit over the top with hiding who we really are. Everyone whether they like it or not is fake these days using products to hide their real body for all to see.

Beauty, monsters and the desirable

Over the past 5 weeks we’ve been learning about what makes something beautiful and what makes something monstrous. It’s actually been really interesting unpicking the attributes that are associated with both and I feel I’ve learnt a lot and will not at things the same way from now.

Something that I thought was most interesting was how beauty products are described as creating ‘Natural’ beauty but when you think about it how is the product creating natural beauty when putting something on yourself isn’t natural at all. These types of adverts also all seem to emphasise the fact that things have to shine and be smooth. For example hair products always go on about how much it’s going to reveal your hairs natural shine and face products are always shown to create a smooth blemish free face.

Overall I’ve learnt that our idea of beauty is very fake and it seems even natural looks have somehow been altered to fit into what is socially accepted as being beautiful.

The flip side Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)of this is the monstrous look which is basically created using the exact opposite of the attributes that create beauty. A large emphasis of what makes something monstrous is placed upon the inorganic body and focuses on the materiality of the body, the textures of the body and the liminality of our bodies.

When you look at any monster from a horror movie they always play on the outer bodies coming out so for example Frankenstein’s monster is bolted together, zombies have flesh and guts on display and numerous monsters bodies leak. As a roundup the inside becomes the outside, things that shouldn’t be on display are put to the front so we canny escape it. It is these concepts that make the monster a monster and make us feel distressed and unnerved by its looks and its presence.

We also looked at fetishism and why we finds things sexy and desirable. One of the things I found most interesting that I never really realised before was how a lot of what we find sexy requires undressing or undoing. For example a strip tease is only found sexy when the woman has her clothes left on, even though some fabrics might be see-through it is the fact that we still have to undress the woman to reveal her fully that we find sexy. Zips, and knots are used a lot in fetish clothing because they prolong the time it takes to get undressed and silky materials are used because they feel nice on the skin. I found this really interesting and it’s that I now recognise.

The constellation subject was quite different to what I had first imagined but I found it very interested and I’m glad I chose it. If someone told me we would spend an hour talking about women’s hair then I may have thought twice about picking it but it’s actually been really interesting and I’ve learnt a lot about why we find certain things beauty and others monstrous.

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Goddesses and Monsters

For constellation this year I have chosen Cath Davies subject called Goddesses and Monsters, it’s the one that jumped out at me when I first read about the options and I’m glad I’ve managed to get a place.afbc05efffb14c2f2e6d74cb78750c85

In my first session we looked at the Pygmalion myth in regards to glamour which was actually really quite interesting. Pygmalion after seeing the propoetides was not interested in woman so decided to carve his own woman made of ivory which he fell in love with. On Aphrodite’s festival day he wished that his ivory woman would become real and his wish was granted.

After reading a few theoretical studies and analysing some images there were some reoccurring characteristics that came up. Glamour seemed to be very much linked with shiny, smooth and overall fake ingredients such as diamonds, make-up, luxurious materials.

It was very interesting to see what something glamourous and how for some reason the faker something is the more glamourous it becomes. It definitely made me look at things in a different way and question what is natural in this world.

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