21 years old, Art Student, Illustrator, Photographer, Writer, Thinker, Existentialist.

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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Cultural Stereotypes*

The idea behind this piece of work is to identify the stereotypes that we, the media, television, or other outlets may attach to the cultures from around the world. I am aware that some people may view my work as racist, shocking, inappropriate or offensive, this is not my intention. My intention is to make people realise that we are all equal and all different in our own unique way.

Everyday children are confronted with what is considered to be beautiful, attractive or normal through the magazines they read, the programmes they watch or the celebrities they admire. What is normal? I’m sure that if you asked anybody they would all express a different answer, the reason for this is that nobody really knows what normal is. As human beings (and that is what we should be classed as, not objects of advertising, sexpression or stereotyping) we have the ability to look past gender, disability, race and background, maybe we should put these traits to good use once in a while.

Normal does not exist; we can only live the life that we choose for ourselves. Identity is not something you can buy, it is created from the person within and the individual personality you hold. We can aspire be anything we want to be, so find what it is and go for it!

*Stereotype: (Greek ‘fixed impression’) in sociology, a fixed, exaggerated, and preconceived description about a certain group or society. It is based on prejudice rather than fact, but by repetition and with time, stereotypes become fixed in people’s minds, resistant to change or factual evidence to the contrary.

Some sociologists believe that stereotyping reflects a power structure in which one group in society uses labelling to keep another group ‘in its place’.


In some parts of Japanese society women are still viewed as second-class citizens, therefore the male toilet logo symbolises the male dominance within the culture. I drew a Geisha as they are still very much a part of Japan's cultural history and they are predominantly female, although Taikomochi are the male variety they are not as well known. The kimono belt shows the Rising Sun - the center piece on the Japanese flag. Other things on the kimono are Gameboys (Japan's association with being the technological capital of the world). Chopsticks, sushi and fans are commonly associated with Japan as they are one of the first things that Western society immediately thinks about Japan. The US dollar represents the Americanisation of the Country, as with every other Country you cannot escape the ever present bombardment of McDonalds, Starbucks and Coca-Cola.


Americans are stereotypically patriotic about their beloved US of A, hence the American flag in the background. McDonald's is the most popular fast food franchise in the world, Americans are stereotyped to wear I <3 NY t-shirts and eat McDonalds - resulting in the epedemic of obesity we are all told about. Disney World is what a lot of tourist go to America for, so the Goofy hat shows that.


Piniatas are a Mexican tradition so the character is drawn as a Pinata rather than a person. The number of bats highlight the mass number of offspring that we are told that Mexican produce. Wal-Mart is said to employ immigrants and within America Mexicans are seen as immigrants so the Wal-Mart uniform tells us that this unhappy chappy is employed there, perhaps the dissapointment in his face is due to the unfair wage he is given? The 'sombrero' is a nacho, because as we all know Mexicans live on a diet of party food... Tequila, apparently Mexicans love the stuff, in pictures and cartoons they are all seen swigging the stuff.


Going by the stereotype Chairman Mao (Mao Tse-Tung) is idolized in China, and there is not a room in any house that does not have is face adorned within it's confines. The bookcase has several copies of a red book, Mao's red book to be exact. When we see Chinese people in popular culture they wear what is percieved as a 'Chinaman's hat' - Raiden in Mortal Kombat wears one. 'Study or Die' is something I took from P Diddy's disgraceful and intimidating campaign 'Vote or Die', Chinese children are seen to be pushed to achieve high marks in school and perhaps even bullied to do well, our views and perceptions of the world are pretty squiffy thanks to the TV and the media.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

All you need is love

15cm X 15cm

When my tutor pointed me in the direction of the Royal Art Lodge I was apprehensive to say the least, I loved the style of the paintings, but on wood? Nah, not my thing at all, when it comes to me and wood it's never resulting in anything remotley near a good outcome. There was that time I got sawdust in my eye, the time I attempted to make any number of objects at school which just looked abysmal or the time I face planted a patio table and totally decimated it. So the odds were stacked against me, but I ploughed on through and produced these rather quaint wooden (yes, wooden!) tiles based on my likes and dislikes.

War (dislike) I decided to remove the army hat from the bear as I felt that this seemed to be a bit too strong and avert the focus from the actual picture. The crutches add a new dynamic to the image, which makes me wonder who the crutches actually belong to? What happened? The war seems to be a playground war, similar to the fights and arguments that happen during childhood.

Music (like) I got rid of the text that said 'Together We Can Make Sweet Music', it struck me as a little too cheesy. Two people holding hands symbolises the communion that music has the power to produce. Two people holding hands sounds like it would be a sweet and beautiful image - but the drawing shows a reluctant hand (fist clenched) and a 'female' hand that is missing a finger with nails that look like claws. The image conjures up lots of question and is open to interpretation , but the 'ugliness' of the scene holds a certain beauty that is just strange.

Consumerism (dislike) My idea was to have a boy pressed up against the glass of a shop, looking inwards. The 'stars' are actually stickers like the ones used to promote and advertise offers and sales. The boy looks totally absorbed in whatever he is looking at, but he could well be looking at us - the audience. The way I have illustrated the child reminds me of a puppet. As a viewer I'm intrigued to know what is on the other side of the window.

News (dislike) The news at present seems dominated with relationships, i.e. the Tiger Woods scandal, William and Kate's wedding, affair after affair etc. But what about relationships closer to home? After all they are news too. My idea was to focus on a paperboy, a woman and an anchorman. The anchorman brings the news to the woman and she loves him for it, but it's the paperboy who really loves the woman. I like how many meanings and scenarios can be derived from this one image. The minimal colour helps to absorb and capture the viewer's attention and place them on the outside looking in, with the lovesick paperboy.

Books (like) At first glance the girl looks to be counting, but after reading the text it becomes evident that she is reading. To me the act of reading is like praying on opened palms - moments of peace, calm and quiet to concentrate on words full of beauty. The text tells you one thing, but leads you away by suggesting another. The use of only three colours doesn't distract or overpower the audience. The image is simple and complicated at the same time.

Spiders (dislike) Everybody knows who Spiderman is, unless you've been cut off from the rest of the world for the past 50 years. I have used the idea of Spiderman and applied it to a man actually covered in spiders. The way I have drawn the man allows it to be interpreted as a man or a child. The very idea of somebody covered in spiders is my idea of hell. The style of the illustration is obscure, for instance - the spiders look like stars. So if the text was covered it would look as if the person was covered with stars.

Bedtime (like) Bedtime is a time to rest, dream and recuperate. Sleep is important, we need it in order to cope with everyday tasks - if we do not sleep, we cannot function properly. Sleeping positions are very revealing, they differ from person to person. I pondered the idea of a baby in the womb to mean bedtime. The fetal position is a very common sleeping position - perhaps in sleep we feel as we did inside the womb? The void in which the baby rests is peaceful, the black seems to sum up the vastness of the womb.

Mini Cheddars (dislike) Edward Gorey's style and approach has inspired me greatly, his works have mass appeal - they mix storytelling, beautiful visuals and dark humour in order to form unique and exquisite little masterpieces. Discovering Gorey's wonderful and bizarre world helped me to open up to the possibilities of introducing the strange and surreal to my work. This drawing/story/scene popped into my head and made me chuckle, as it is both absurd and unusual. The way I have approached illustrating the sentence is reminiscent of Gorey's sometimes unconventional pictures.

Maths (dislike) Numbers have numerous ways of being displayed, roman numerals, binary, numeric, written etc. I have opted for a tally as the display reminds me of the long, laborious and strenuous process of a countdown. The tally is repetitive, thus the image repeats endlessly.

Myself (like) White space can mean any number of things - freedom, loss, loneliness, a sense of not belonging or space to breath. I have used it so that the text is in the center (the statement is open to debate). I really lack self-confidence and over compensate by perhaps coming across as big-headed and sometimes arrogant.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

NOT to do list

Speaks for itself really, was going to animate it but if I carried on getting any more stressed that the camera couldn't do simplest of tasks and focus probably it would have been heading straight out of the window. The things on this list are pretty universal, but the reality is that I will most likely not take note of anything which is addressed on it.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Africa Exhibition @ British Museum

We arrived in London at about 4 O'clock and decided to first visit the British Museum, it was a leisurely jaunt around the corner about 5 minutes from the Royal National Hotel where we were staying. My arse was just waking up after being in the same stationary position for 4 hours, it hardly seemed fair to drag it halfway across London to the Tate or White Cube. The British Museum itself is huge in scale, both on the outside and the inside, to visit all of the exhibitions in one day is impossible.

From what I saw the room that impressed me the most was Africa. The combination of exotic treasures, precious artifacts and recent acquisitions made for a striking, powerful and inspiring exhibition. I could have gladly spent a whole day devouring each and every item on display.

In total there were two pieces that managed to peak my curiosity and fool me on first inspection. The first was the 'Tree of Life', from a distance it looks like a tree made from scrap metal, which in a way is true, but looking closer you are able to see that the tree is made from more than 600,000 guns left over from Africa's 16-year-long civil war. The sculpture manages to send a shiver down your spine together with a mixed feeling of awe and amazement, if your knowledge of Africa is limited to Oxfam advertisements of images of children's faces covered with flies then this piece will make you aware of the true reality of modern-day Africa. Around the base of the tree are animals each made from guns, they too possess a natural realism which is deceptive at first. The 'Tree of Life' is beautiful for what it is portraying and it represents the step towards freedom that Africa has achieved and the hope that it's people will one day live a life free from violence and a corrupt dictatorship.

The second piece I saw was 'Throne of Weapons', like the 'Tree of Life' it is made from decommissioned weapons. It alters and changes the horrors of war into an object of 'beauty', from a distance it looks like any ordinary chair, but viewed up close it tells the story of Africa's struggle and it's determination to rid itself of warfare. Stools and chairs are a symbol of power within African culture and this makes for a astute juxtaposition which is effectively emotive.

The 'Throne of Weapons' was created by the Mozambique artist Kester, he is involved with the scheme Transformacao de Armas em Enxadas (Transformation Arms into Tools, otherwise known as TAE) many of whom were child soldiers, the scheme helps Africans to lead a productive and beneficial life by making art using the waste products of weapons. The scheme has most recently worked with Christian Aid to produce the 'Tree of Life'.

Africa is not just a poverty stricken third-world Continent, this exhibition makes you realise the beauty of a distant land and gives you a glimpse into what TV, the Internet or the BBC World Service cannot - a chance to observe the lives, stories and history that help to make Africa what it is today.

Image Copyright - Christian Aid/Paul Hackett
Kester on the Throne

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

London is the reason (or is it the excuse?)

I have to write a 300-500 word article on an exhibition I saw whilst in London, should be a laugh since I think I overloaded on exhibitions. It's impossible to cram all of London Town into 5 days, enjoyed it though, although I burned myself out on the first night and felt lethargic for the remainder of the trip.

I deleted my 'photo of the day project' accidently so I only have 3 left, what a twonk. Liverpool can rest assured it is still in my opinion home to the most ignorant people on Earth. I also wrote a NOT to do list which I'll animate along with some papier mache things, I've abandoned panic stations for the moment, just cracking on with work then.

Dr. Gupta (Tuesday)

Hi @ my face (Wednesday)

Bedroom wall decorations (Thursday)

Oh, and The Debacle published me article and poem so I've achieved one of my goals for this year - get published.