I’m not normally the type to squeak deadlines – you might have noticed that I had my Cape/Comica/Observer entry in weeks before the closing date. And then what happened? I started talking to friends about how little chance I felt I had of winning, and one of them suggested hedging my bets a bit by entering a strip into the Thought Bubble Comic Art Competition.
Well, that deadline was only a few weeks away (it’s still open! Enter!), but it only involved submitting a single page, and I managed that. And THEN the same pesky friend said that since I had turned that around so quickly, maybe I should submit something to the AOI Prize for Illustration*. The deadline was something like 10 days away at that point – 10 days which included a weekend we had booked away for a family reunion.
Anyone sane would probably have shrugged and said, oh well, maybe next year then, but it appears that a) I’m very suggestible, and b) I find it hard to turn down a competition.
It’s not even as if I sprang into action right away, either. No, I spent a while casting round for inspiration. The competition has the theme “London Places and Spaces”, and goes into some detail about the requirements, which include the fact that you must at least nod to a form of London transport. Eventually I landed on the idea of all the backs of houses and gardens you see from the Overground train windows, which always grasp my attention as the train trundles through the suburbs. You get just enough of a glimpse to imagine yourself down there, bouncing on a trampoline or picking flowers from the pristine beds, lying on a garden bench or picking up toddlers’ toys.
Once I’d played around a bit with composition I suddenly thought, of course! The theme lends itself very well to the collage form I’ve used before… but would I have time to do something quite so intricate? Well, now I know the answer.
As a rough estimate, it took about twenty hours’ work, mostly crammed into the time between finishing the day job, and going to bed when I reached exhaustion (which actually isn’t that late for me! I wake early for the school run, so by 11 or 12pm I’m bushwhacked). The knock-on effect of the late hours was that I was too tired to do my normal exercise at lunch time – something I’m usually very strict about – and that my husband started giving me the side-eye over the share of housework I was(n’t) doing.
Hopefully it was all worth it: I’m pleased with the end result. If I’d had more time, though, there are things I would have done differently. My stocks of maps and stamps – my favoured materials – were very low.
A friend has been promising me some old maps for months, and I’ve been too lazy to go and collect them, so that’ll teach me. I had to use my very last scraps, which didn’t give me a full tonal range of materials to choose from. Also, because of the London theme, it would have been just great if it could have used London maps and tickets – but I had no such thing in my stash.
Never mind, though. It is, as they say, what it is.
* Warning, this website flashes in a very disconcerting and headache-inducing way.