Wednesday, 24 September 2014
I was pleased to be asked back to create another 2 illustrations for October’s issue of Top Sante magazine. They are to accompany an article on the health questions every women should ask. I wanted to keep a positive feel to the illustrations by using bright colours and uplifting imagery, although I did need to include 1 or 2 medical items for pills and blood pressure. To make it clear what all the issues were, I was asked to add type which I really enjoyed making by hand (and think are pretty successful even though I do say so myself!). Hopefully I'll be able to do more handmade type soon. The magazine is out now.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
A while ago I was asked by the Curious Duke Gallery to write a blog post on my advice for creatives. I've not written for AGES so thought this would be a great chance to share my experiences. You can see my work on their site here
Things I wish I'd known when I graduated...
1. Say yes... to things that scare you
By this I don't mean any extreme sports or living in a war zone. Any way of working that is just a bit outside your comfort zone (from new subject matter, to working with different people or places) can be exciting and hugely beneficial to you and your practise. A few years ago I submitted a design that would be painted on a life size model of a baby elephant for the Elephant Parade charity. To my surprise the design was accepted, which was amazing, but did leave me with the daunting task of painting on a mammoth scale something I've never done before! However the design sold raising £1000's of pounds for a good cause who I've had the pleasure of working with several times.
2. Say no!
After graduation you can find yourself with a lot less time on your hands (often having to juggle your creative work alongside non art jobs). It's worth being selective with who or what you give your time to. Initially I always said yes to everything, but after a while you can find yourself constantly busy doing "stuff" but not necessarily the best you could be in terms of for your art, your own enjoyment or for your bank account. Ask around, visit events you're thinking of doing, carry out online research. It might take a little longer but it's worth making your time count.
3. It's great "exposure"
Lots of organisations from the up and coming to household names are on the lookout for artists to work with on the basis of paying you in "exposure". Whilst I don't believe no is always the right answer (an amazing charity close to your heart for example) be suspicious of big brands trying to take advantage of you. Working for free, certainly in the illustration market devalues our artistic practise and in the long term harms our industry. After all who will pay for something that someone will do for free.
4. Trust your gut
Sometimes your senses tell you that something just isn't right. It's the same in any industry but in the freelance art work, where lots artists just want to "make it" there are always going to be some time wasting clients and unscrupulous characters out there. I once received an email from a suspicious individual who wanted to buy several original pieces from me (using bouncing cheques!) By no means is everyone out to get you either but if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. (Selling artwork with the Curious Duke Gallery is a much more enjoyable experience!)
5. Keep Learning
Keep up to date with your peers, techniques, style, technology and anything else relevant to your practise. For me following blogs that drop posts in your inbox makes this much easier (my favourites are Red Lemon Club- great advice for all creative businesses, Illustrators Union- for illustrators and Pikaland ).
6. Log off (once in a while)
I must admit I love the internet and can't imagine trying to work as an artist without it, from getting inspiration to actually getting commissions. However, there is nothing I repeat nothing as distracting when creating artwork than seeing your inbox slowly fill up, your twitter feed or sometimes just being sent down a Pinterest wormhole. A friend of mine used to say she logged in to check her emails twice a day and I think that's a pretty good rule. Once you've got what you wanted shut everything down so you can concentrate on your artwork.
7. Be nice (and reliable, professional, honest, punctual...ect)
Self explanatory this one and even truer in a creative environment when jobs and opportunities are often word of mouth recommendations (making getting work in the first place so much easier). No one wants to work with a diva.
8. Find some friends
Unless you can afford a studio once you're out of art school, life as an artist can be a solitary one. Although family and regular friends are great sometimes it's good to meet up with other creative's as it's a great chance to chat about burning professional issues, show and tell, share contacts and yes occasionally have a moan too. I meet up with Yo Illo (a monthly illustrators meet up in London) and with the super helpful Brighton's Etsy team but lots of cities have their own.
9. Be your own Cheerleader
Sounds cheesy I know, but when you're bashing out artwork or plugging away trying to get that gallery/ magazine/ individual to take notice of your work, it's easy to get dispirited. I think keeping an eye on how you feel about your own work and practise is really important, like team morale in an office. If you feel crap about your artwork then you're not going to want to create. It's also going to make promoting and selling your stuff a whole lot harder too if you don't think it's up to much. I try to look at past work that I was really happy with and talk to other creative's (compliments work wonders!) to try to get through the negative stage. (Also try to avoid comparing yourself to other artists too, just because their art/ career looks amazing on paper doesn't mean anything!)
10. Get Opinions... and ignore them
Getting other peoples (honest) opinions is useful and harder to come by after your degree when the days of crits are over. It's great to identify a group of people you trust whether they are fellow artists, family or your twitter followers who you can ask a question and get an opinion. (I do this quite a lot on my Facebook page!) However, the trick is to take advice on board but know when to use it and if you have a gut feeling on something then go with it. After all it's just someone else's opinion. And these were just a few of mine.