Sounds of the City


Ideas    |    Choice   |    Processes   |    Practitioners   |    Documentation   |    Evaluation

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Browsing for ideas

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For this project we have been tasked to visually capture sound heard in UK cities in a single illustration. This is in connection with The AOI Prize for Illustration.

The competition states that: “The aim of The Prize for Illustration 2017 competition is to attract artwork for display in an exhibition at London Transport Museum that is colourful, inspiring and celebrates the sounds heard in the hubbub and quiet spaces of the UK’s vibrant, diverse, multi-layered cities.”

Here are the terms for entry for this competition.

My initial ideas for this project include:


Pigeons, Seagulls, Crows, Ducks; these are all birds that reside in our cities and have their own musical quality they bring to each city. I feel this would be an interesting way to explore this brief.


Instead of the loud areas, I wanted to focus on the quieter side of a city, such as people reading either in libraries or bookshops, people on computers or mobile phones, as these are common occurrences in modern day life.


From light rain to gales, every city is affected by weather and each city responds to it differently. The sound of weather could be a very interesting approach to this brief.


From conversations with friends, business meetings to beggars asking for spare change, to market stall floggers and other vocalised chatter, it’s something no city is without. This would be an easy response to the brief.

Hull city of culture 2017

Thinking of specific locations for a UK city, I am definately inspired by the city i’m in currently. As there is a lot of excitement for it to become the city of culture in 2017 there are lots of interesting things happening. From builders drilling, and repaving many places throughout the city there is also a lot of excitement with volunteers popping up all over the place showing what is going to happen in 2017 such as new exhibitions or events throughout the city.

I have also had a look at 16 UK cities to visit in 2016, to get an idea of where people are likely to visit if I change my mind from Hull to somewhere else.


From music emanating from shops, clubs or gigs. I’ve been the most inspired by this point and had a look further into what musical elements frequent our cities. I came across this 4- part programme on different music from across the UK named ‘Sounds from the cities‘, it was an interesting and informative watch, and inspired my ideas for music in cities.



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Music in Hull

For my final choice of idea for this project, I felt most inspired to combine music with Hull as it will be city of culture in 2017. I wanted something to show the diversity of genres of music that I have heard in hull, from buskers with bagpipes to rock concerts. Below is a collection of visual reference I have used to help me create my final images:






To get a better grasp on what kind of music is in hull i had a look at the following websites:
Hull’s best live music venues
Hull Truck Theatre
Hull Jazz Festival 1 Hull Jazz Festival 2
J Night – What’s On

When looking at the last website I came across J Night – Favourite Sounds this was about an event happening in 2017 about sound in Hull. This was called Favourite Sounds.

Here is some information about it:

You learn a lot about a city by asking about its soundPeter Cusack
What is your favourite sound in the city where you live – or where you grew up, studied, worked, fell in love, played football or rugby league – or simply spent some time? Sonic artist Peter Cusack has been asking these questions since 1998 – and building an endlessly fascinating archive by inviting replies to this question in London, Beijing, Prague, Berlin, Birmingham, Manchester and Southend-on-Sea. The result is a series of intriguing and often surprising results, revealing both the city of the ear, and the significant role that everyday sounds play in our lives.
Now it’s Hull’s turn.
Favourite Sounds of Hull is a further step in a journey that encourages the local community as well as those who know and love Hull, to identify and share with the rest of the world, their favourite sounds of their city – a project devised especially for Hull, running from the autumn of 2016 and throughout the City of Culture year.
Favourite Sounds of Hull is curated by Peter Cusack, and produced by Serious in association with the School of Arts of the University of Hull. The project has been designed to complement Mind on the Run, the year–long celebration of Hull’s obscurely influential artist, the composer and sonic explorer Basil Kirchin.
If you’re interested in sharing your favourite sound, please visit the Favourite Sounds of Hull page and if you’re interested in hearing other sounds, look out for listening booths at various live events during 2017.
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 – Sun, 31 Dec 2017

 This will be quite interesting to look out for after I finish this project.



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3D Pen

Below are a few websites that helped me when I was getting used to my 3D pen. There were a lot of helpful tips, like creating a template to draw over to give you one less thing to worry about when creating your image. This proved very helpful for me. I also watched a few videos showing other people using a 3D pen (one of which is below) and this also proved helpful to see how each image should be structured.

How to Use a 3D Pen

3D Printing Pen Tutorial

Potato Printing

As I decided I wanted to create a new piece as I wasn’t fully happy with my final 3D structure, I thought that printing would work well for my composition. I settled on potato printing because rubber stamping was too costly and I wanted to be able to create my prints in the comfort of my own home, so I felt printing with potatoes was perfect. The websites and video below helped inform this decision and also helped me with tips and ideas. Now I’ve done this I would be willing to recreate this process and use potato printing for fabric items like t-shirts or sheets.

Potato Printing Step-by-Step
Potato Prints



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Bud Bullivant

I love these wire sculptures that Bullivant has created, in particular I love the way these sculptures are grounded with driftwood. It gives each piece an anchor and makes it look more beautiful than if it was alone. This is something I would love to replicate if not for this project then something I could work on in my own time. I also love that just because he has used a different medium it hasn’t necessarily had to become 3D, these 2D images work particularly well like this.

Ruth Jensen

These are stunning wire sculptures too, however, the odd one has been created with a 3D pen (in particular the red bird). I love this, it looks incredible and is exactly why I brought my 3D pen, to try to create images in 3D. I would love to one day be able to make sculptures as well as these.

Barbara Taylor-Harris

Taylor-Harris’s interesting 3D pen designs enhance her current paintings by adding a whole new texture and dimension to her pieces. I especially love the willow draping off the page, making each image much more intriguing. Her stand alone sculptures are also really interesting to look at, I love the use of colour in each piece and this is something I will consider for my final design – if I wish to include several colours or keep it strictly one colour as a silhouette.

Julia Burns

Julia Burns’s wonderful potato prints are stunning, these are highly illustrative and beautiful designs are exactly what I would love to replicate for my final piece. I especially like the ‘unfinished’ feeling of these images as I find the images to be much more intriguing.

English Stamp Company

This is a great idea for wedding invites or other mass produced items like tags or cards. This is made with rubber stamps but has a similar approach to potato printing, I would like to try out potato prints first and the progress onto rubber stamps for the future. These are highly effective and something people can keep for a very long time and be used again and again (unlike potato printing).

Yellow Owl Workshop

The yellow owl workshop uses prints to create beautiful and interesting cards and other merchandise. I also love that they create their own rubber stamps of their illustrations for anyone to purchase and use. These stamps are unique and simplistic and this is the sort of style I would love to replicate for this project. I would love to try out rubber stamping for future projects.


Documentation of working process

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3D Model

Creating my 3D image was a lot of fun overall, but also quite frustrating at times. It was exceptionally difficult to get used to the pen, this was due to the plastic it churns out comes out fairly quickly and takes a while to set, therefore making it quite fiddly to sort out and pace each ‘image’ appropriately. However, I’m really glad I tried this method out and would love to try it on something else in the future, however, I really did feel that it wasn’t the final image I was looking for, for this project.


I have been itching to try my own methods of printmaking at home and felt potato prints would be fun to try out. I also felt that my final images would be good to print in this style and I felt it would come out well. I feel that this worked exceptionally well and I’m really pleased with my final result.

Final Image


I’m really pleased with my final image, I really like the rough style of the prints and the quick watercolour wash behind my piece. I think each aspect enhances each other into an overall complimentary piece. I’m glad i’ve included text as it’s something I love (typography) and I think the font choice is suitable for my final piece, I feel that without the text the image looks unfinished and not as interesting to look at. Thinking about it now, neither would have worked very well for the competition, but I’m glad I produced something that I like and I feel works well as an image.

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