Lucy is a first year Graphic Design student, and she recently sent me an email asking whether I'd be happy to answer a few questions for one of her university projects.
Here's the interview - I thought I'd post it online as there may be questions on here that other students may want the answers to (Some of these are questions I get asked from different people so I see students wanting to know the same things sometimes.)
When did you realise you wanted to be an illustrator ?
I learnt about illustration when my art teacher at school mentioned the University for the Creative Arts - our career advisers hadn't head of the place despite it being 1 of only 3 universities in the area. So I'm glad he told me about that! Also one of my first inspirations was when I saw amazing screen printed gig posters.
I went on to do the foundation year there, then moved to London to study a degree in Illustration at Middlesex University. This is where I did a little bit of commercial work and was my first introduction to the freelance illustration world - since then it's been hard work, trying to always improve and market myself to continue the flow of work. I'm very lucky to now have regular commissions and sales through my shop to keep me very busy with it all.
What was your first job (in the creative field)?
I've had lots of little jobs from labouring in construction, to start ups that were copying other business ideas (so I didn't really feel motivated working for them) but I haven't had any jobs in the creative field except for when I started freelancing.
How would you describe what you do currently?
Mostly map commissions! Loads of uses for maps but it is 99% of the commercial work I get. I have more freedom to make what kind of prints I want if I have time between commissions and I can make prints for my shop.
What has been the biggest change in illustration since you started?
I'm not too sure how to answer this one as being a freelancer I work from home alone most of the time, so news and goings on in the illustration world is mostly from online blogs and things I find online. The changes I can think of though are pretty much just trends and whats becoming popular, this applies to the design world too - plants/green styles, human bodies with animal heads, cute cards with puns on etc.
What has been your favourite project?
With this question I pretty much always say Roald Dahl for obvious reasons - I've been a lifelong fan and it was amazing to have a job where I got to look through almost all of his books and make a map out of them. But really any project where there is good communication with the client and things go relatively smoothly - a solid brief and vision of what is needed really helps produce good results.
Favourite project you have seen but haven’t worked on?
There have been loads I would have love to work on - I like this question. I'd love to work on a children's book but my portfolio probably doesn't show publishers that so much (The kind of work you do is what you'll get hired to make).
What was your biggest mistake?
Pricing is one of those things that is always so hard to get right. My agent told me about an amazing book called 'Pricing and ethical guidelines' by the Graphic Artists' Guild which really helps. But you never know what other illustrators have quoted - they may have quoted low without realising. But also on high profile jobs, if they want you and you're more expensive than another - they still might go for you. It's also something that comes with experience.
What is your ambition?
To keep what I'm doing and expand really - great commissions big and small where we're passionate about the project, I've been working hard and spending lots recently on expanding my product line and working with new stockists to hopefully see my work in lots of shops across the world!
Who is the most inspirational person you have worked with?
To be honest all my work 'colleagues' are across email so you only really get a small sense of how they work, but you can still get an idea. Lots of people who commission me feel strongly about the project and want to make it as good as it can be which I always respect. Sometimes this means making extra changes that I didn't want to make, but usually they're right and it's better afterwards.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out now?
It's tough to get into, and tough to make money at, but keep making work, keep making the type of work you want to be hired for, and hopefully a little further down the line you can specialise and become the go to illustrator for a certain type of work