Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Andrew pavitt - Lecture

Andy Pavitt, who I have already mentioned in previous posts, is working at Big Orange studios, which was actually started up 16 years ago by Andy Love and promoted key members of the design industry such as Dan Williams who is still a good friend with Pavitt and Daryl Rees who is now with 'heart' agency, who also recently wrote a book, on 'How to be an Illustrator'.
There has been upto 18 Illustrators working in the space which Big Orange also share with the AOI, which in some ways is a typically a valuable thing, your able to get good advice with contracts when you get commissioned, Help with agents, on their terms for example and there is also the bonus of free membership!


Money is typically an issue within the studio, as it would be to any illustrator or anyone for that matter. Individually at Big Orange, it works out at £200 a month each, but this has the advantages too, the Big Orange studio, is a 24 hour studio and so is always open. Pavitt spoke about the problems you encounter when you get commissioned especially if it's a short time scale to complete a job. You may do a few hours, go out for a drink and come back in at maybe 11 o'clock at night and work through the night, as he expressed one of his colleagues has done. I suppose it's not the best thing, to be awake most of the night completing the job, but when it involves the money, everyone needs to have some sort of bank balance at the end of the day. It would be worse for an Illustrator if they had a studio alone, you wouldn't have anyone to share the costs of rent with, and you may not be lucky enough to have the studio for 24 hours and so begin to juggle your time when completing a piece of work.


Pavitt as I briefly mentioned above the advantages of a shared studio, the split money costs. You also have the privilege to bounce ideas of one-another. It's good when your doubting your work, or you just can't see the wood for the trees. There are a lot of good tools in a studio. It is also somewhere to advertise.

Gathering contacts is an important part to establishing yourself, the Illustrators at Big Orange do share contacts but you have to respect all the work that went into getting them. Editorial contacts are shared but if it's for example, a brochure.. they tend not to.

The equipment is shared at Big Orange, apparantly most of it was already in there when they first started it up. Plan chests, these become one of the vital ornaments of a studio - a typically considered -must- when your building your studio, because of archiving! Paul Davis who creats excess amounts of drawings of alternate scales-  has all of his large work archived in plan chests and other smaller work in storage boxes. The organization of your work, becomes very important when your in a studio with that number of people. On visiting the studio, I was quite surprised with the neatness, it was everything I expected a design studio would be, and it wasn't at the same time.


Pavitt mentioned, that to some extent the location of the studio was important. Big Orange is in the middle of Shawledge, which is a lovely part of London, but full of fashion victims! There is also the getting to your studio, if your quite a way from your studio, there is the time it takes to get there in the morning.
Pavitt stated the same would apply here, not just in London. Ben Jones is based in London, but works up here in Manchester. Pavitt was very encouraging at expressing that the Location isn't everything. Obviously it would be easier being closer to the agency to some extent but most illustrators work digitally and send their work by mail. But there is also the advantage of making contacts if you are working in London, where all the hierarchy agencies are based. One thing to remember - work hard and let people know you are still around. Remind people of your work and style. If you give them means to remember, a business card or postcard for example, they may just have a job going at some point!


At Big Orange the rent costs, well, the studio space, an individual space is £200 i mentioned. For a painting studio, you could probably find something for £100 a month, but thats just a white space painted, boarded, room with a window. There becomes a spectrum, from bad to good in terms of studios. The better end has meeting rooms, phone lines which isnt always so important if you have a contact mobile, but internet connection!? well there's a must! For just that bit more money, you would be able to sort some of these things out.

Pavitt stresses, for him the 24 limit of a studio, is a must! Most studios don't. But it's really important to check when your own your way to finding one. The clients don't take into consideration the deadlines, and the time you have to create illustrations. This includes the sending of roughs and then final imagery which will ultimately need altering. But, Directors, don't care how it gets done but instead they believe it to be a privilage for you because they are the ones in the first place, giving you the job! They expect the job turning round quick.

The DISADVANTAGE of the studio, is the dynamic of it, sometimes, you come across the wrong personalities, people who don't fit in; ie. certain music tastes. Little things that enable people to get on. 6 years ago, it was about the style of the work, but now it is based on the personality of the illustrator with regards to whether they fit in. Pavitt calls it the vetting procedure. Big Orange has a reputation. It hasn't yet happened that someone has not yet met a deadline. If one person misses a deadline - that is, theses clients will then pass it on further. You will lose credibility and no- one will want to commission you based upon this fact.


Because Big Orange is established - people like Cheryl Taylor went in but came out to only be going further up the ladder of success. If you go to an art director they instantly know who you are. They know good people that have left. Cheryl would say she got a lot out of the studio when she went on an internship there- she had the opportunity to make a lot of contacts - mark farrow, adrian shaughnessy.

DAILY MAIL - has good pay and also longer deadlines.
GUARDIAN - the profile of the Guardian, is very high but they don't pay as much. But you have to think about the thousands of people that will be seeing it, it becomes self promotion.
NY TIMES  - You could pick up jobs away with company's such as NY Times but they give you a phone call and expect a job turning around almost instantly despite knowing you have to work through the night.

It's very prestigious but thats why it's crucial planning the studio. You need to keep an eye on timescales if it's away. It may be monday here, but it will be tuesday there. Sometimes you struggle to complete it for a deadline and then send it but don't hear a response for a week or so when they may have been pushing you to complete it by a certain date. 

Big Orange rarely work together and do exhibitions. Pavitt once did a book with Davis. But there isn't always time for 'fun' which is how Pavitt sees it. Paul who is the art editor for the drawbridge newspaper in London, usually commissions people he knows, whose work he knows is of a high standard but Ben stated within the talk that it's very free work, in terms of how open it is - 'you can do what you like'.

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