PART TWO: Exercise: Writing a brief


(image: David Shrigley – ‘This is to tell you about the Barn Dance.’)

Writing a brief sounds like a really simple concept, but it’s trickier than it appears. David Shirgley’s  piece, ‘This is to tell you about the Barndance’ is an example of how a an illustration brief could be taken a little too literally, leaving little or no creative interpretation to the illustrator… except in this case, it is exactly what a commissioner might be expecting from Shrigley, as he is well known for this particular style of no frills art, so in that sense, it might be an excellent example of a win-win for commissioner and client.

For this exercise I chose one of Mouni Feddag‘s excellent editorial illustration, seen below, because I admire the colour palette used and the way the composition is used to create a narrative of irony.



Working backwards from the final image, I have created a short written brief that could have worked for this image.


This image should contain a woman in athletic gear, watching a group of people doing a high intensity workout on TV, from the comfort of her own sofa. It should be clear that she has abandoned her own work out (equipment should be in sight, but clearly not in use) and is now snacking.

The image will accompany an article on how and why more and more marketing companies are targeting women with new lines of “fashionable” athletic wear, often celebrity endorsed, and why it isn’t making those women any fitter.

The role of this image will be to add an emotional context to the article, a feeling of romanticism and irony. It should convey a feeling of isolation coupled with a familiar kind of comfort. The audience should feel like a voyeur looking into someones real life “moment of weakness.”

The composition should imply there is a disconnect between how she aspires to be and how she currently is. This could be implied through physical distance or a change in colour/tone. The colour palette should be feminine, but not overly girly (no pastel pinks please.) Overall the colour palette should be strong and clear, one that feels warm (familiar) and not sad.



Illustration to accompany an online Women’s lifestyle magazine editorial piece.



Women aged 18-45 interesting in keeping fit/ fashion/ social theory/ genderized marketing strategies.



Stylistically,  I particularly admire your excellent use of colour, it feels very fresh, vibrant and modern – this is something we would like to convey. Also the way that your work has a slightly frenetic quality to the hand-drawn line work and layers of mark-making (i.e pencil over ink washes). It feels very human, and hints at the beauty of imperfection, which is something that we would like to encourage.