Monday, 4 May 2009

-- Establishing yourself --

Upon starting an Illustration course, I was under the impression as anyone would be that you have to be a good drawer but thats not necessarily the case, its a misconception, some illustrators dont draw just for their own commercial practise, instead working in alternate method of design that comes naturally to them. The biggest failure as ive been told is the failure to understand the different skills you need to create a good illustration.

I read to become an Illustrator, 'you need to know what publications exist, who publishes them, and how to get a publishers attention'. Going around talking to people, showing your portfolio to various agents and companies. Art directors, can tell the difference between a good and bad portfolio. They can tell the difference between a student and an established designer already within the design industry.

When I was in London, showing my Portfolio around, I among other students had a potfolio meet with YCN an agency promoting illustrators. They obviously knew we were students, yet they were pleased with the work, yet, they stated that possibly the work would look a lot more inviting in its original form and not as a digital copy. Beacause the majority of illustrations that we see today are in newspapers, magazines books, they are flat and sometimes without the expression a piece of work in its developemental stages. YCN said to change the scale of some images, which sometimes enables the illustration to jump out a bit more and catch the directors eye. The Industry today is always looking out for new illustrators, fresh talent. Yet it is wrote within 'How to be an Illustrator' that,

'The number of new illustrators entering the field each year easily outnumbers the number of new magazines launched.'


To any illustrator, this becomes a bit of a worry, not being good enough, the right material, and it lessens the chances of a job. Although I have noticed that illustration today has many fields of design, animation and graphics for example sometimes merge together, and so developing your knowledge of these skills coud open up new doors with your experience.

Ian Whadcock worked with Damian Gasgcoine to produce Illustrations and animations for the adverts and stills advertising The 'Switch to powergen'. Obviously Whadcock produced the Illustrations and Gascgoine created the animation, but Whadcock would have had to design more than one rabbit for example he would have seen the creative process going on, and he may have been commissioned further for other relating jobs like this - adverts as such. So opening up your skills could be a good approach or atleast a fallback or maybe something to keep you going until you have your chance in the industry if you dont quite make it straight away.


Which brings me to Ben Jones, whilst I was in London, I mentioned I got a chance to talk to him about his career as an illustrator. I had a further discussion with him in college. He stated from University, he got selected for the D&AD which is an educational charity that represents the global creative, design and advertising communities. It becomes a chance for a practicing illustrator or someone that has just finished or is just finishing University to have their work seen by a wide variety of Agents, Art Directors, Advertising companies, and publishers, so to be commissioned from here, well, you've almost got the cat in the bag. 

Ben Jones spoke to me about how he got his fist commission from staging his work at D&AD. He also had further commissions from this, yet he came to a point where he didn't have any work and he said the only thing you can be doing at first is promoting yourself, ie. taking your portfolio round to various directors. It also helps if you have already worked for someone.


When Andy Pavitt, who is the Art Director at Big Orange studios, came to give us a lecture and work with us for a day we questioned the lifestyle working around other people for a start and being able to bounce ideas of each other but we also asked about how illustrators working there presently have 'fitted in' with the Agency. He said it reflected upon the personalities. well.. most of the time.. i suppose with clashing personalities, you wouldnt get on, you wouldn be able to question someone about one of your designs, you couldn't share opinions. there would obviously be conflicts. yet when certain personalites have joined and blended with pavitt and past/present illustrators, the studio is easier run. With a bad personality you could also have a run in with money problems etc.

Im not suggesting the future of becoming an illustrator depends upon your personality, yet, the personality brings the decision-making process, the ideas and opinions towards a commission. your practical skills give you a means to express yourself and your work, and if you have a means to express, you have a means to promote, to go round and show your portfolio to as many people as you can. 


When producing a design piece, you have to listen to opinion and advice and at the moment, for me, constructive criticism. At the end of the day, you have to enjoy what you do, and so someone else's opinion isn't always the 'right thing to do'. Ultimately everyone has a difference in opinion but upon establishing yourself, you only need interpret the opinion and not necessarily act upon it, learn from it.

I would say that without gathering the advice and difference in opinions for my work I have been doing, I wouldn't have noticed so much a successful illustration to a bad one. Because i have interpreted some of the advice, I can then see where I am going wrong and what I need to do, to make a more successful illustration. I'm not suggesting I'm the next sara fanelli but obviously you need to be aware of successful illustrators, what makes them successful, and what a successful illustration consists off. 

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