Illustrations can be seen in all sorts of publications but very few understand how professional illustrators work in a real world context. During her residency at Lingnan from September to December, award-winning British illustrator Ms Cat O’Neil introduced to students the field of contemporary illustration and the skills of visual storytelling.
The first part of Cat’s residency involved teaching a practical module to a class of 15 students. She guided students in the challenge of creating a sequential visual narrative in response to briefs given to them every lesson. Week by week students learned how to create stories and the technical skills required to communicate them with the viewer. Cat also delivered a seminar entitled “Artist’s presentation talk by Cat O’Neil & Illustration as Sequential Narrative” on 17 November to share her experience as an illustrator for books and magazines, and explain how narrative acts as a drive behind illustration.
Apart from teaching, Cat also worked on her own self-directed project “Tiger Heart” during her residency. Centred on the topic of street harassment, the watercolour illustrations expressed through metaphorical imagery tells the story of a teenage girl who stands up for herself in response to uninvited advances. “As an illustrator, I want to communicate a story, and I want the story to be accessible. I find social issues and history much easier to understand when it is told from a personal perspective. It humanises the experience and makes it something that I can relate to,” said Cat.
The “Tiger Heart” project and students’ final projects were exhibited at the Leung Fong Oi Wan Art Gallery on 8-19 December.