Visual Storytelling

Updated: Mar 25



All photos by Bruna Magalhaes


Last week, before the Covid-19 lockdown kicked in, we held the second Greater than 11% event, the theme being visual storytelling.


Artist and Arts Educator Marilyn Ford started the evening off. She discussed her practice; a combination of drawing, photography and animation, detailing her current project, making a stop frame music video for the band Wretched Toad. To inspire the group she shared some of the models already made for the animation. There were a lot of oohs and aahs as these delicate artworks were passed from person-to-person.



Mainlining our creative flow, Marilyn challenged us to draw the person opposite but with our non-dominant hand. Some striking and surprising imagery emerged as people put pen to paper with caution but persistence. She then guided us to draw our favourite pet or animal… with our eyes closed. The results were as enchanting as much as they were amusing.



Finally, she encouraged us to take our freshly formed skew-whiffed pets and using the visual prompts placed on the table, draw a story around their existence. Silence befell the group as the task at hand was carried out with an ardent concentration. From owls with Chanel handbags to pipe smoking dolphins, a number of rather intriguing, complex and hilarious visual backstories surfaced by the end of the session.


For the panel, professional visual storytellers sharing their work, experience and successes were; Candy Guard - Animator, Illustrator, Director, Author and Émilie Chen - Graphic Designer and Art Director.



Candy discussed her award winning, Channel 4, animated series: Pond Life. It stemming from reflections of her everyday experiences and observations whilst living in Cardiff. She divulged that her work often focuses on her persistent thoughts around the mundane, as she feels this is what connect us.



She talked through the practicalities of animating and how her style was shaped from the need to create and simplify: evolving from a comic strip she was commissioned to make for The Observer.


Candy also shared her process for writing and illustrating, discussing in detail her popular tween fiction books: The Jelly Series.


Super diverse, Émilie Chen whose talents play out in; posters, billboards, book covers, catalogues, merchandise, trailers and adverts, shared a selection of images of her work and projects.



Covering the differences in working practices between being part of a permanent team and a freelancer, Émilie broke down her creative process, detailing the specifics of work such as the book cover for Anne Boyer’s - The Undying. It was reading the memoir and finding the description of the author’s moth-eaten jumper where she found the inspiration for the emotive and beautiful artwork, that now adorns the front of the book.


Émilie also talked through managing ‘rejection’ during the creative and pitching phases of a project. Focusing on work she did for The National Theatre’s production of Pinocchio, she revealed that there were a large volume of ideas presented but turned down by the creative director. It was on reflection she found the genesis for the final output was buried deep within the initial ideas and process. She communicated the importance to keep mining for ideas, looking for layered ways to visually tell the story when facing difficulties responding to a creative brief.



To conclude Émilie, shared her personal project: My Fellow Commuters (again to delighted oohs & aahs) of the tiny portraits she captures whilst traveling across London. The diminutive and perfectly formed drawings are a wonder to behold. She has amassed 600+ of them.


An evening of complete submersion in creating and using visuals to connect and communicate.


As it may be some time before we all get to socialise again and in the great British tradition of being calm and carrying on, we declare that time in isolation be used to create!


If you are feeling a little creatively flabby we suggest using the basis of Marilyn’s workshop to get you going.  Draw with your opposite hand, form creatures and landscapes from objects around the house or create portraits of those that you are sharing a space with - human or animal. Tag us on instagram if you are willing to share your visual stories birthed through being in isolation @greaterthaneleven.



Our next event is scheduled for early May, but as we are currently in unprecedented times, we will wait to see what unfolds over the next few weeks before promoting any dates.


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You can find, connect and contact all our fabulous visual storytellers:

Marilyn -  insta: @marilynoftheforest

Candy -  insta: @candyguard and youtube: Candy Guard - Animator

Émilie - insta: @spottedbyem and her website: emiliechen.com


#greaterthanelevenpercentevent #candyguard #emiliechen #marilynford #visualstorytelling #creativelearning #creativeinspiration #drawing #doodling #connectingcreatives #creative #creatives #creativeevents

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