As the project has changed slightly since writing the proposal, I wanted to make it clear to the participants what my intentions are, introduce myself, and essentially be open and honest about the project. Here is what I have sent, and a reply back will be the equivalent of a signature.
My name is Hollie Woodward, I am 25 years old and I have fibromyalgia, as well as depression and anxiety. I have been living with these invisible illnesses for around 10 years in total. I am an illustrator, and am currently working towards my MA in Illustration. Invisible Letters is part of my MA project and will be contributing towards my final show in Plymouth, UK in September.
Living with an invisible illness is a difficult thing to communicate. Our symptoms and their life implications are often difficult to quantify, making it harder to communicate with our loved ones, to medical professionals, even to strangers. We are affected in different ways and it is easy to feel isolated, and not feel the freedom to discuss the taboos of our illnesses.
Also, there is a lot of information available about a variety of invisible illnesses, but very few publications that collate a range of first hand experiences of illness; discussing the sensations and life implications having an invisible illness has on a person.
Invisible Letters is a project where invisible illness sufferers have contributed letters aimed to whomever they choose, regarding issues they experience around their condition.
The purpose of this project is to address these issues:
- To provide a resource for invisible illness sufferers to share and find comfort in
- To provide a platform for people to share their experiences of invisible illness
- To provide a resource for people who have some experience of invisible illness, as well as the wider public, to help understand aspects of our conditions
Initially, the project was to create an illustrated zine containing the letters contributed, that would then be available to read online and in a limited print run. I intended for each letter to have a corresponding illustration, created by me, and for each letter to sit sequentially within one publication.
How will the letters be used?
I received an overwhelming response from you all and cannot thank you enough for your participation. But because of the range of content, and the power within each letter, I feel that having all of them in one publication will not give the space each letter needs.
With this in mind, I now see each letter that you have contributed to be a publication on its own; each letter will have its own illustrated book/zine. By doing this:
- Each publication can be customised to suit the content, so I can change the illustration style, how many pages it has, the size of the book/zine etc. This will let me present the letter in the most suitable way without having to conform to the style of another letter.
- The letter will have more room to breathe. I can spread the letter out over numerous pages, making it easier for others to read and easier to understand the content.
I would like for these publications to be part of the final degree show for my Masters degree in September. Because of the changes made and progress in intentions, there is no obligation to continue to be involved with this project. This is a collaborative project, and any feedback or concerns you have will be listened to.
Many of the letters have been sent to me anonymously, whereas some have chosen to give their names. In terms of authorship, there are a few options:
- If you would like to remain anonymous, then the publication will be published under the name “Invisible Letters”. I will be credited as the manager of this project, but my name will not be on the cover.
- If you are happy to be acknowledged, then we will both be named as collaborators
This can be discussed individually. All letters don’t have to have the same authorship; they can be tailored. Please let me know which you prefer or if you have any other suggestions during the progress of the project. It doesn’t have to be decided now, but is something to consider.
What happens now?
Because the scale of Invisible Letters is larger than initially intended, this means it will take longer to complete. I aim for the project to be completed by the end of September 2018, where I would like them to be exhibited in the final degree show.
I will be working on one letter at a time and in no particular order. I will be in touch with you individually when I am working on your letter, so it may be some time before I email you again. Please don’t think I’ve forgotten about you; you are more than welcome to get in touch about any concerns you have in the meantime.
When I start working on your letter, I will email to let you know I am doing so and will be in touch with you after a few weeks with some drafts to show you. Once they are approved by yourself and any changes are made, they will then be put together as a publication.
A few things to bear in mind
- I myself live with an invisible illness, so may not be able to commit to specific deadlines. My illnesses can be unpredictable so may not be able to complete work in times specified
- I cannot promise that I will be able to illustrate your letter. I hope this won’t be the case, but if I feel my illustrations cannot do your letter justice, I do not want to publish substandard content for the sake of fulfilling the brief. Again, I will discuss this with you individually. If this does happen, I will give you what I have done via email for you to keep, but will not publish it.
- If you have any concerns or questions at any time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email, Instagram or Facebook.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I wanted to make sure my intentions and what’s going to happen next clear. I would really appreciate it if you could email me back by Saturday 12th May 2018, just to say that you’ve read and agreed to the changes. Thank you again and will be in touch soon.