Here's an interview I did for the Association of Illustrators Industry Insights section of their website.
Look! An explorer in the bushes.
What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?
I have always loved illustration and while growing up, art and drawing were always my favourite things. I followed quite a natural creative path up to Edinburgh College of Art and originally began a degree in Graphic Design. After the first term I realised it wasn’t ticking the right boxes for me and switched to Illustration. This was when I properly realised I wanted to spend my time creating images as a job.
When are images stronger than words?
Often! Images let you make up your own mind and interpret something visual in your own way. I love reading comics and I find myself drawn more towards the ones that don’t have words. Like music, images are universal so it's quite powerful to be able to tell a story with just lines and colour.
What was your first break as an illustrator?
After I graduated I went travelling for a bit and then moved to London. Soon after that I was fortunate enough to be approached by a branding agency that were re-designing a Pizza Express restaurant in Westbourne. The theme for each restaurant is always based on the local area, and it turns out Westbourne is one of the happiest places to live in the UK. I drew 30 illustrations of people with the thing that made them happy- like a lady with her cat or a man, eating fish and chips. That was probably the first big project I was able to get my teeth into (ho ho).
Pizza Express Nottingham- part of a 30 meter long wall mural
How has social media, if at all, helped you with your freelance illustration work?
I think social media is a very important promotional tool for illustrators. It’s great for sharing new work and finding out about what’s going on in the creative world, and of course feeling like you’re part of a community. Freelancing from home you can feel a bit isolated and cabin fever sometimes sets in! In terms of gaining work from social media, I got my most recent job (to write and illustrate a children’s story for an interactive ipad app) as the client found me through twitter. There are so many platforms to showcase your work that it can only be beneficial in terms of getting your work seen. However, I don’t think it’s the be all and end all - you still need to put in a lot of hard work to turn ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ into actual commissions.
What are the three obstacles that you find throughout your freelance working day and how do you make sure you get through these?
1. Time - the day goes really fast especially when you are fired up with new ideas. It’s really frustrating when you have to stop something mid flow. I’ve had to become better at organising myself and managing my time to make sure I get my work priorities right. Drawing a fun comic about zombie turtles probably shouldn’t come before roughs for a proper job, or chasing invoices, for example. Making lists works for me, and I plan what I’m going to work on each day.
2. Being objective about my own work. I work from home and tend to get tunnel vision so find it really useful to talk through a piece of work with others to gain a new perspective. A chat often gets me unstuck on a tricky project.
3. Distractions. What music to listen to, what to have for lunch, shall I do some washing, I should probably take the bin out, oh look a youtube video of people falling over etc. Must... focus!
Page 1 of Sam Jamwitch and the Sad Wooden Ferrets by Kate Hazell and Ed Hawkesworth. Read the full story here http://www.katehazell.com/sam-jamwitch-and-the-sad-wooden-ferrets/
Tell us a little about your wall murals for Pizza Express in Nottingham and the process behind the commission…
The Pizza Express mural in Nottingham was a really fun project. Weirdly, the Westbourne and the Nottingham projects were commissioned by different agencies, so there was no connection – apart, perhaps, from my love of pizza! The architects, Ab Rogers (http://www.abrogers.com/splash/) , had a clear idea of what the look of the restaurant was to be. The area is famous for Raleigh bicycles so they wanted bikes and bike components incorporated into a continuous narrative line drawing all along the 30 meter back wall of the restaurant. I worked out a design based on their requirements, on a scaled down plan of the building and then spent 5 days on site painting it up onto the wall. I mapped it out in chalk first just in case! Some areas of the design have actual working components incorporated into it that spin or move every now and again.
Food & Wine Magazine- editorial to support an article about South East Asian inspired recipes in the USA.
What quote keeps you motivated?
“Just get on with it”- or words to that effect (see obstacle 3 from other question) from my sister Jo. That’s just one of her many helpful mantras, along with “Weak tea = weak mind”.