Artworks for the SA Mental Health Commission

A little while ago, I delivered 17 original artworks to the SA Mental Health Commission, custom framed and matted, with engraved brushed aluminium title plates.

The first of this set of illustrations was commissioned in December 2016, and the various images have since been used over social media, in the newspaper, on postcards, brochures, banners, PowerPoint presentations, and even printed on balloons! At times I felt quite overwhelmed by this as it’s on a scale I’ve not experienced before. It was very strange to see my work in so many different settings and stand next to banners for consultations. It takes a bit of getting used to, and dealing with my inner critic who had me half convinced my client was going to be inundated with criticism from ‘real artists’ who would reveal me as the fraud I am… It can be a very strange and even challenging feeling to have someone else value your work. Sometimes art takes courage!

The illustrations were designed as the friendly face of the consultation and development of the Strategic Mental Health Plan, to encourage people to engage.  All the resources have been carefully designed to have a personal rather than corporate feel about them. We created a character, my box faced dog, to be a kind of mascot; a friendly invitation to connect. These dogs were used throughout the consultation process in kind of a blending between art, illustration, and branding. As a relatively new organisation the Commission has had a tough job – to reach out to as many South Australians as possible and inspire us to get involved about mental health. Art as a to for commission and connection has been a valuable part of the way they’ve been able to engage so many people.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and many people have collected and kept brochures and resources for the artworks. I’ve immensely enjoyed these commissions, getting input from different members of the Commission team, buying inks to match the colours of the Commission, and liaising with their graphic designer. I now have a lovely portable folio for use in my illustration work when doing preliminary sketches and figuring out a brief. (Sorry for the confusing terms Commission/commission!)

I was surprised by how similar finalising a big collection like this felt to finishing an exhibition! Previously all my commissioned work has been a single piece, so the scale of this project was a new one for me. There was such a sense of relief in completing everything and handing it all over to a happy client. It’s finally off my hands, my desk, and my mind. The framing looks fantastic and the title plates are very clean and professional. The frame and artworks enhance each other and make the colours seem to glow. My worry about something awful possibly going wrong at the last minute makes way for a desire to sleep for a week. 🙂

During this project I’ve been developing my skills and capacity around illustration work, and I’m pleased to say I’m starting to licence images of my artwork to other clients too. It’s been a very valuable opportunity to open up a new aspect of my art practice, for which I’m grateful.

I’m currently collaborating with a couple of website designers on a new project to update this website and showcase my online portfolio of artwork in a much more lovely and accessible way. This will help people to find and buy or licence my artwork much more easily.

I’m also starting lessons today to extend my software skills so I can more quickly and competently handle my digital images. I see illustrations and licences being a regular aspect of my business going forwards. Watch this space! 🙂

My dogs in the newspaper

My dogs on the website

My dogs on a banner

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