MDes Graphics/​Illustration/​Photography School of Design

Sally Mairs (She/her)

My background in painting and printmaking means I approach illustration with playfulness and impulse. Interested in the history of craft, print processes and publishing, my mindset drives my hand, and my work comes from getting lost in a print medium’s process or in the subtle details of a comic frame. For my MDes in Illustration, I focused my research toward collaborative and diaristic publishing, using comics and narrative to address issues of isolation, mental health, and the mundane. Designing narrative spaces and characters to illustrate my written diary entries throughout this challenging year has allowed me to simultaneously ground myself in the mundane and look closer at my subjects, while channeling childlike escapism and imagination to cope with it.

My stage 3 project, a zine titled SHORTS: Summer ’21, juxtaposes these rapidly fluctuating states of mind through a series of comics and illustrations. Impulsive printing experiments from the rare afternoons I spent in the GSA case room sit between a moody, introspective graphic memoir I made in my room while isolating, and a quick, energetic jolt through an imaginary technicolour desert. This work is a limited edition print run of 50 zines, printed on newsprint in August 2021.

25.05.21, SHORTS: Summer ’21

25.05.21, SHORTS: Summer ’21

25.05.21 is a short comic based on my written diary entry from said date. Featured in SHORTS: Summer ’21, the comic depicts my experience of fainting after receiving my first Covid-19 vaccine. I spent my Winter lockdown studying zines and comics published during previous periods of political and social unrest, which for reasons relating to budget, guerrilla distribution tactics and resources, often featured black and white, first-person reflections on seemingly mundane experiences of their time. Due to the nature of the experience and my mindset while creating it, this comic is the only one which uses this particular visual language throughout the whole book.










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Threshold is a short graphic novella I wrote and illustrated in my second semester. Surprise announcements made by the UK government over the Christmas break of 2020-21 saw the students who were lucky enough to be able to visit their families, stuck there for months with no end date. In response to the situation, this comic uses found materials and methods- such as collaging together fragments of past work in my Dad’s old scanner- to recognise parallels between personal rumination and the global state of things. The resulting main character exists in a liminal space and lacks community, exhibiting a strange lament for, and confusion toward, past experiences she still finds torment in revisiting. With nothing else to do, she picks at her past like an old wound, blindly navigating the present, out of refusal to critically address and acknowledge the threat of her immediate situation. The completed book is a laser jet printed edition of 10 A5 zines, hand-bound with risograph covers printed onto old parcel paper, with a pull-out newspaper page from 2061.

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