Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Sarah Hanson - Caroline Tomlinson




Sarah Hanson has been working with the AOI for a few years now, I remember finding her work in the first year and almost writing to her in the second year but I had run out of time. I chose to mail her this year, due to her initial practice and how she creates her images from looking over them, she has a very much hand crafted technique similar to my own practice. Her work reflects similar design concepts to Martin O'neil and Michelle Thompson. Last year I mailed Caroline Tomlinson, who too, worked in a similar style. Although the work doesn't resemble my own in terms of the 'look', I am taking into consideration, the process and practice to how these illustrators have produced. -The technique of hand-craft- illustrations and how this practice has dominated in some illustrations, in comparison to computer-aided design, which has become a talking point of the illustration industry. I posted an article about hand-craft my David Crow a while a go.

I have sent an email to Sarah Harison about her working method in relation to my own, trying to question the problems I sometimes have, questioning her advice.

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Dear Sarah,

I am a student in my final year of a BA Hons of Illustration. I came across your work on the AOI website, and wanted to write to you last year about your work but sadly got pushed back with time. Your Illustrations are remarkable and constantly inspire me!
As part of my degree, I need to build up information about Illustrators/ Designers and the Design Industry.

I know how busy you are but was wondering if you get a spare moment, I could have your opinion on a few questions below?


  • What are your influences and what inspires you?

  • How close is a final piece to your initial conception? Do you create roughs, or is it a case of 'play' with elements?

  • What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?

  • What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration?

  • Within your work, you to use found imagery as a primary element, which conveys a somewhat layering system to your work; I tend to rely on shape within my work, but still maintain to let photographic elements inform a piece. I began to find that I didn't always have the right photograph for example. How do you source your materials and do you ever struggle to find the right element?

  • Do you rely on computer programs such as photoshop to assemble your images or is it entirely handmade?

  • I have included a short PDF of some of my work, I would Value your opinions or any thoughts you may have. Thankyou.

  • What advice would you offer an aspiring Illustrator?



Thankyou so much for your time, any of your feedback to any of the questions would be greatly valued! I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Sarah Hilton.



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Above are some piece of Caroline Tomlinson, you can see the comparison with Sarah Hanson.

I have also included an email from Tomlinson as research in relation to the to my practice and the practices of those within the design industry.

Dear Caroline,

I am speciafically interested in your collage pieces you have made, they are gorgeous! Ok, 5 questions.

  • How do you develop your ideas?
I am naturally a bit of a collector so I have hundreds of old magazines and books in my studio that I can flick through and get excited about new elements that I can use in my work. These elements tend to help me generate ideas and sometimes I start something without a solid idea in my mind and its not until I have spent time working on it, does the final idea present itself.

  • Who/ What inspires you to create mixed media pieces?
Peter Blake is a big inspiration for me. He is the King of Collage in my eyes! His mix of collage and type and colour is inspiring.

  • Have you had any favourite jobs?
My most favourite job was for an exhibition to celebrate my agents first birthday. It was an open brief as the only thing it had to be was about birthdays. I just had some fun and tried something a little new in my work, a symmetrical collaged frame and I learnt a lot in doing a slightly new approach to image making. It was good fun, and it also won silver for self promotion in this years AOI annual (which is now last year!) Which was rather nice!

  • How did you get from being a design student to part of the design industry?
I started as a designer and still do design. However, in the last two years I have moved over more towards art direction which I am enjoying. And it gives me a chance to pull on all the influences that inspire me. Photographers, illustrators and fashion. It's lovely when I work on a project and I have managed to use a less than well known illustrator or photographer who's work I admire. I find that very satisfying. Recently I have felt all my influences have pulled together in what I do, be that art direction, or illustrating. They are just different outlets for my creativity - and both feed into each other rather nicely.

  • Have you any advice for an aspiring illustrator like myself?
Work hard! Make sure you leave with a portfolio that shows the best of what you do. Looking back at both my BA and my MA a lot of people leave without a proper portfolio and believe me you wont have the opportunity again to create work for yourself! It's actually a very self-indulgent time, and looking back I wished I had known that in the working world it's hard to give yourself a day to create some new work, let alone a full week! So enjoy it  and work, work, work. It always pays off in the end.

I wish the best of Luck for your future.

Kindest Regards

Caroline.


Ben Jones

Ben Jones was a student at Stockport College, doing the same degree as myself, I was lucky enough to meet him when I went to London, whilst I had a portfolio meeting with Cheryl Taylor. My thoughts were that as an Illustrator, Ben has gone from the same course to a job in London, he has worked and produced Illustrations for the Guardian and the Drawbridge newspaper in London, which is edited by Paul Davis. I thought for these reasons it would be good to have Ben as a contact to compare, with other Illustrators or Agencies with his insight on the 'going about's' of getting yourself into the industry.

When speaking to him in college, He was good enough to answer a few questions for me. In terms of his work, he produces a lot of print illustrations, depicting strong shapely elements with some photographic reference. We spoke about the piece below, which he clarified, was what earnt him his place in the industry, it communicates strongly and has a limited colour palette. It isn't overcrowded  and has focal elements which draw your eye into the spot colours and photographic elements. The composition is well spaced and simple.

I asked Ben about my some of my current work, what his opinions were of it, whether or not it communicated from a general point of view? He replied that it had 'strong visual conceptions yet it was possibly a bit overcrowded.'

Communication seems to be the falling point for me, and so I have begun to mail practitioners about how they produce their work and generate ideas without overcomplicating images, as I always want to add more! - similar to the email I sent back to Gillian Blease. Ben also noted that he too would notice that sometimes he too may add elements without there being any means of them being there, he said 'you just have to strip it back and think about what the image is trying to tell the audience.'



After London, I mailed Ben a few questions about the Industry.

Hello Ben,

My name is Sarah Hilton,

We briefly had a meet in London for a portfolio meet with yourself and Cheryl Taylor, firstly I would like to thank you for your time. It was much appreciated! I have always been inspired by your work, your prints are beautiful!As part of my degree, I need to build up information about Illustrators/ Designers and the Design Industry.

I know how busy you must be but was wondering if you get a spare moment, I could have your opinion on a few questions below? I can appreciate there are a few, but any time you have to answer any of them would be much appreciated!





Hi Sarah
here we go!



  • Who and what influences and inspires your Illustrations?
I would mainly say mid century graphic design. Polish poster art favorite being Jan Lenica, 50s American graphic design such as Push Pin Graphics and Dutch graphic design. These days tho I am more inspired by what I read story fairy tales ect, cultural things such as Chinese shadow puppets , Victorian times, the mythology of religion i am getting a bit deep now. I have illustrators I admire but try not to let them influence me to much as work can end up looking to much like what they do. main ones being Nate Williams, Jeffrey Fisher and Sara Fanelli. I love the strange characters that they all produce they seem to give them so much personality which makes there work is a joy to look at this is what I want to do with the characters I create.



  • I always tend to overcrowd my images, I want to include just about everything I find all at once! What advise would you offer in relation to the way you answer a brief?
The first thing you need to look at is does it communicate what the brief is asking so if you find your self using to many elements in your images look which elements communicate what you need to say first then get rid of the others. Failing that rather than making one image create 5 different illustrations and use all the elements you want to use.


  • Sometimes, I experience quite a few mental blocks when I create an image, and have to have a break. Sometimes I think if I prepared myself better from the start or earlier on, or maybe if I had a strategic approach? But you don't have so much time, in the real world (so to speak). When answering a brief, do you get mental blocks or do you have an approach or method as to how you go about creating your Illustrations? (I'm sorry if that question is very vague, I don't quite know how to word it)
Every body gets mental blocks they seem to happen to me when I spend to much time on a peace of work. The best thing to do is as soon as you get An idea no mater how good or shit it is just make an illustration you don't need to labor over a image sometime an illustration that takes a mater of minutes is better than something that takes days.


  • Do you think it is better working in a studio with other Illustrators who you can share your ideas with, as opposed to 'your own private space'? if so why?
It's not really an issue for me I quite like to work on my own I can put crazy music on and not upset any one . I do try to keep in contact with other illustrators as you know Cheza Taylor is one of my best friends, Jo Nelson is a good friend of mine and I get drunk way to much with people from combine illustration. I try to Contact other people in the industry such as Paul Davis, Stan Chow, Holly Wails and Nick Sanders and I always send stuff to YCN so I get feed back if I need from people in the illustration community.


  • What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?
Acting on things! Try to always be creating new work, contact people, get your work in front of people. Art directors need to see your work before they can commission you. Some time that means going to London to show your folio or posting work out, emailing ect. Try not to rely on the internet tho as there are allot of illustrators out there with websites so art directors wont seek out illustrators you have to show them what you can do first before they commission you.



  • What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration?
Showing my portfolio around, Post outs and getting involved with things such as YCN. I would recommend setting up a profile on there site www.ycnonline.com. Its how I became one of there illustrators on agency ycn.


  • Did you conform to a style that was around at the time you first got commissioned?
Not when I first started. I did a bit last year when Adrian Johnson was doing stuff for Robinson's, but that style just is not me I think it worked against me.


  • Recently I came across a piece of your work within the 'Drawbridge' Magazine, and it appears you have an alternate style of drawing that is not so relevant within your work you design at Synergy. Would you say it is hard to remain an established Illustrator upon changing your style?
I am in the middle of changing my style as I fucking hate photoshop these days so I am spending more time away from the screen. The Drawbridge is a fantastic way to play around with image making. Just so you know I am on YCN not Synergy thats chezers agency.


  • What advice would you offer an aspiring Illustrator?
Do a drawing every day. Its advice given to me by Paul Davis and I have been much more productive since then.


Last one..


  • If you have a recollection of my Portfolio, would you have any advice upon improving it? (I can appreciate you spent quite a bit of time with me already, but if I'm honest I was that overwhelmed upon our meet with yourself and Cheryl, that I got a tad nervous upon what to say, and forgot some of your feedback, I have included a PDF). I'm every so sorry to sound cheeky for asking. I value your opinion very much!
I would just say keep at it. I love your train image its my favorite of your illustrations. Be true to yourself and create the kind of illustrations you want to do and think about what art directors want to see after. Try to remember illustration is just a job and don't be overwhelmed by it People in the industry enjoy looking at illustration and are mostly nice and offer constructive feedback and if they dont fuck em! who cares. Like any other job work hard and you get rewarded.

Hope this will do. I am in collage on Wednesdays teaching the first years so if you want a chat just give us a shout.

Ben x




Thankyou so much for your time, any of your feedback to any of the questions would be greatly valued! I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Sarah x

--------------------


Recently, Ben has joined the teaching posts of Illustration at stockport college, and whilst I was seeing him round, I thought to take advantage of asking him a few questions relative to my work and the industry, to see if he had any advoce and pointers.


----Communication----
you dont have to be massively firurative, people communicate the idea, because of the text, ie if you were working for book illustration, putting contrasting images and shapes, together to draw your eye in, ben said all he would change about my work, he said the images i have created for my book are just a bit overcrowded. the ideas communicate, but again, because of the text in play, the same applies for editorial stuff, and editorial stuff is always simple. the simplest ideas are the best.
Ben also noted after simplifying ideas, to look into graphic design layout. The ideas are simple and communicate instantaniously, and also dutch graphic design, which has more recently been informing me..
-Henrik Workman
-H M Workman.
-Yan Tsichiold


----Agencys/Clients----
when you get a commission with an editorial, in terms of what they want, Ben said 'they usually point you in the right direction, but they dont necessarily give you an idea for the brief.' They tell you what they want, and expect a rough within hours which then gets sent to the client and transferred back to you, which you then finish within the day on average for an illustration as i was asking ben. It all becomes about time management. Andy Pavitt stated that he produced what he likes to call two roughs, one being a pencil rough and the other is a more progressed finished design. Pavitt works quite graffically vector formated and with clients such as the guardian. Even if the work you produce is not done or complete, as long as you have an idea, no matter how good or shit it is, 'in the end, it becomes experience, all you have to think about is meeting deadlines.'

----Ycn----
They started as an agency and made a website for new designers. Ben did an exhibition at the royal college and the ycn looks for new designers, you dont have to pay, it gives you a platform to view and show your work, for others to comment.

----Work----
simple ideas, ben spoke about how the majority of illustrators, how 'two styles'. Recently within Bens work, he wasn't so much getting bored of his work, but it differs from his more recent work. Jo Nelson, has a distinctive style of which has always been significant within her work, Ben says he is completely the opposite, but it's not unusual for this to happen, most illustrators, either change their style or develop work in a different 'trend'.
Ben and Cheryl are setting up their own website/agency, nothing to big, but a way to promote their work they do in the meantime. Both Ben and Cheryl spoke about this when I was in London, and how important it is to produce work JUST FOR THE SAKE oF IT! At the end of the day, you have to enjoy what you do. Paul Davis, too, produces work everyday even when it doesn't go towards anything, at some point it might, or it could spark of new influences and inspirations, to future work and take you in any kind of direction.


When Ben was looking over my work, I was asking whether or not my images are too complicated, as this is where I usually fall back.. If there was too much? he said
'you don't have to be massively figurative, because its a book, and with most illustrations, there is text aside; people communicate with the image, because of the text. As long as there is a visual reference of what is going on within the text, you can't go wrong, just keep it simple.'

Matthew Richardson





Hello Matthew,

I am a student in my final year of a BA Hons in Illustration. I don't know if you will remember me, you came to work with the second years at Stockport College last year, teaching with Jo Nelson for a while. It was a great experience, your work is beautiful, and always inspiring me! As part of my degree, I need to build up information about Illustrators/ Designers and the Design Industry. I know how busy you are but was wondering if you get a spare moment, I could have your opinion on a few questions below? I apologize for there being a few, but a response to any would be greatly appreciated!




  • Who and/or what influences and inspires your Illustrations?
  • I have noticed your fond use of found ephemera, I always tend to overcrowd my images, I want to include just about everything I find all at once! What advise would you offer in relation to the way you answer a brief?
  • Sometimes, I experience quite a few mental blocks when I create an image, and have to have a break. Sometimes I think if I prepared myself better from the start or earlier on, or maybe if I had a strategic approach? But you don't have so much time, in the real world (so to speak). When answering a brief, do you have a strategic approach or method to how you go about creating your Illustrations? (I'm sorry if that question is very vague, I don't quite know how to word it)
  • Do you think it is better working in a studio with other Illustrators who you can share your ideas with, as opposed to 'your own private space'? if so why?
  • What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?
  • What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration?
  •  Would you say it is hard to remain an established Illustrator when there are so many other illustrating practitioners within the design industry?
  • You wont have seen my portfolio upto date, but if you get time, I have included a Pdf, I would greatly appreciate your opinion and advice on improving any aspects of my designs. I can appreciate how busy you are but if you get the time, I would be over the moon to hear what you think.

finally..

  • What advice would you offer an aspiring Illustrator?


Thankyou so much for your time, any of your feedback to any of the questions would be greatly valued! I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Sarah Hilton.



Matthew soon replied..
Hi Sarah
Of course I remember you (and your lovely work!)
I'd be happy to do the questionnaire, but am pretty up to my teeth with things this week. When do you need the info by? I expect things are hotting up for you at the moment!
Best wishes
Matthew

Dear Matthew,

I'm glad to hear you remember my stuff! thankyou for your compliment!!

Well.. all of my work is due on the 8th of may, but i need a week or so to research after the mail back. Don't worry if you don't have time, I would love for your feedback though! Your a real inspiration!!


Maybe I shall hear from you soon..

All the best in your work!

Sarah x


Regretfully I finish this post with bad news; Matthew was able to reply but only to state that he has been to busy to answer my questions, but he left a few compliments and a tad of advicE!

Hi Sarah
I feel bad I haven't beeen able to send you answers to your questions after all. I'm afraid, I've had a sudden bereavement and just haven't had time at all. Your work look great though - thanks for showing me - my only advice would be don't over-computerise! keep your lovely hand-madeness!!! V goggg luck and let me know how it goes.

Matthew

Monday, 27 April 2009

Gillian Blease




Gillian Blease has been creating graphic illustrations for a number of years, often creating work for the food section of The Guardian Weekend magazine. Ahead of her time in that, it’s only now there’s a visible shift away from the hand-drawn illustrations to more hard-edged graphical design, when her crisp structural renderings are coming into their own.  Blease has also done logo design and advertising illustration. Some of her clients have included The Guardian, Barclays and Sainsbury's. Bleases' work seems to reflect a bold, structural and well considered composition. She tends to see things in a simple light, this in some way is how I would like my work to feel, in terms of simplicity and communication. I mailed Blease a few questions. about the industry, and am now in the process of mailing her a few questions about her working method and practice in relation to my own.






Hi Sarah – this probably covers some of the same ground as the talk I gave. So hope it’s not too repetitive. Good luck with your degree show.
Best wishes
Gill



  • What are your influences and what inspires you?
Paul Rand, Hans Schleger, Abram Games. These were some of the first designers I came across when I started illustrating and they really resonated with me and helped direct my style. Other influences are the artists from my fine art days: Julian Opie, Claes Oldenberg, Andy Wharhol, Peter Doig, Terry Frost. They all combine interesting concepts with great design and composition. They have a real simplicity and richness at the same time along with being quite witty or clever. I look at work from all sorts of sources as much as a I can, especially textiles, graphic design (and logos), advertising, childrens illustration and lots of vintage images – posters and books.


  • Do you think it is better working in a studio with other Illustrators who you can share your ideas with, as opposed to 'your own private space'? if so why?
I think this is a very personal choice. I know illustrators who need to have people around them and need the discipline of going ‘out to work’ every day and who also enjoy the possibility of collaborating or working as a collective. I prefer working on my own, and from home – it’s one of the big perks of the job for me. I make sure I keep connected through illustration events and meet up with my peers in the evenings.


  • What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?
Making your work visible – whether by marketing or by having work in very visible arenas. It’s really necessary to keep reminding people that you’re still out there working by doing mailshots and keeping in touch with those you’ve done regular work for. Try to get yourself in artbooks and exhibitions. Also, professionalism. No one will want to work with you if you consistently deliver work late, can’t take criticism or be prepared to change your work (within reason).


  • What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration?
Initially I sent out home made postcards featuring a few examples of my illustrations and followed many of these up with phone calls to arrange a visit or dropped off my portfolio. I did this regularly for the first few years until I was established. It cost me very little. Now I get postcards printed and have a good quality portfolio, but it’s not necessary when you’re starting out. Lots of illustrators produce their own mailing material.


  • Did you conform to a style that was around at the time you first got commissioned?
No. that’s a really bad idea. You have to work in the way that feels most natural to you. I went through a period a couple of years ago when everyone wanted hand drawn images whilst I was doing hard edged graphics. But there were still enough clients who needed my kind of work and eventually it came back in vogue again. It’s always possible to have a couple of styles, maybe under different names but don’t try to fit the zeitgeist. It’s much better to make a name for yourself via the strength of your personal style.


  • Would you say it is hard to remain an established Illustrator when there are so many other illustrating practitioners within the design industry?
Yes. I’ve been lucky to work with some great clients who I started out with and still work for 8 years later but it’s very easy to be dropped in favour of new talent. It’s important to keep pushing the boundaries of your own work so it stays fresh and exciting for the people who already know what you do.


  • What advice would you offer an aspiring Illustrator?
Be dogged. Develop a thick skin. Also accept that your work will develop, get better over time. Also it’s a waste of time approaching people who don’t want or don’t feature your kind of work in their magazines. Do your research – find out names of the right people to send images to at the right companies. A direct approach will be much more successful. And join the Association of Illustrators. They give invaluable advice on portfolios, pricing, invoicing etc.



Thankyou so much for your time, any of your feedback to any of the questions would be greatly valued! I look forward to hearing from you!


Kind Regards,

Sarah x


I have now sent a further message to Gillian, with regards to her working process and the similar fact of her use of shape. As I tend to overcomplicate my designs, in comparison to Blease, her work is simple but has a strong emphasis on communication, hopefully she can give me some pointers to improve my work. I also sent her an image that I am working on presently, hopefully she may have some advice of where I may be going wrong.

Hi Gill!
Your feedback is wonderful and has helped me immensely. I am a fond lover of your work, and always refer to it for inspiration. Currently, I am working on illustrations for a book by Enid Blyton. I was wondering if I could have your advice?

-As my work has developed over the last year or so, Shape has informed my illustrations with a structure and a fresh new meaning, yet it lacks communication. How do you generate ideas for your Illustrations and develop them, without overcomplicating?

-As I tend to overcomplicate and more 'picture-make' I always refer to the idea I'm trying to put across but feel the Illustration is always needing more.. What advice would you offer?

I have enclosed a recent image I am working on, to refer to as an example. 

I know how busy you must be but any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Sarah.

Silly me hadn't included the context of the story!!!! I sent gill a reply with the initial idea.

Hi Sarah – can you give me the context for this illo? What’s the story it refers to?
Gill

--------------------

Hi Gill,

Thankyou for getting back to me, Sorry, I should have known you would have needed the context! Silly Me. Here we go.

Well, within this Enid Blyton Book, 'Mr Galliano's Circus', each chapter has one initial idea or concept. For this chapter, a dog had just been bought and trained to participate in the tricks of the circus- one of these tricks being able to push a pram around on its hind legs. 

They are very simple and do not have any sort of metaphor, but aside of the text, you can tell what's going on.. what would you suggest?

I appreciate your time, thankyou so much!

Sarah x

And so, gillian got back to me, almost instantaniously! 

Thanks Sarah – have to head out now but will get back to you hopefully by the end of the day or if not then definitely tomorrow.
Best wishes
G


..so I'm waiting fro a reply..


Hi Sarah

I think the image you have sent me is competent and nicely drawn. You can obviously handle texture well.

In your note though I think you’ve identified correctly what is missing: it’s well executed and attractive but could be a bit more dynamic. Although the story is set in a circus I didn’t get that feel necessarily from the illustration. It’s a visual context that you could really exploit, both both with colour and shape. The background at the moment feels random rather than specifically tailored to the piece. How can you give the dog/pram more character, make them more visually exciting? Think about how you might be able to incorporate the circus elements – or simply one element that says ’circus’- it might be big-top stripes or the suggestion of a crowd. At the moment it is quite busy and maybe overcomplicated as you point out. The linear shapes to the left and right distract away from the central image and I’m not sure of their meaning. However

It takes courage to leave things out and I still struggle with that. But if you have a strong composition – and I do like the basic structure of the image - you can get away with being more minimal. It’s possible to create a much more taut image (if that is what you want) by really working on this. You mention that you keep referring back to your idea and I think this is crucial. An image is as much a concept as a picture. Personally, if I’m not happy with the idea then a good illustration won’t follow. I have a lot of trouble illustrating other people’s ideas as I find the concept and composition inseparable. How do I get my ideas? I’m not sure. I think my mind has developed this way over the years – it takes a while to build up an approach and pattern of thought. I try and stand back as much as possible, metaphorically and see it in my mind’s eye first.

In sum – it’s understandable that you want to add more to the illustration, and I think the main elements do need some development, but be careful about how you do this. It’s possible to have both more and less at the same time if that makes sense. The main thing is to try and avoid a scatter gun approach and think about where the ‘more’ is really needed/important.

Hope that’s helpful and I haven’t repeated myself too much!
with best wishes
Gill

Otto Detmer


After having Otto come in to give a lecture, he also had a glance over my portfolio, his work is very minimal, simplistic and straight to the point I feel. So after sending him a few questions he replied within a few days...

Hi Sarah, 
I remember the portfolio. I'll try to answer your questions, hope it'll help.

  • What are your influences and what inspires you?
Constructivism, Bauhaus, Dada, Poster art


  • Do you think it is better working in a studio with other Illustrators who you can share your ideas with, as opposed to 'your own private space'? if so why?
I prefer sharing with artists who are not illustrators. Illustrators tend to be a bit 'commercial'.


  • What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?
I think it's a mater of doing your best with all jobs, being tenacious, keep on developing your practice.


  • What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration?
I don't think you're ever established as an illustrator. but hopefully you don't have to promote yourself as much after a few years. Best promotion is a mixture of general advertising on the web and Illustration annuals, and targeted approach at specific clients, visits, send outs etc.


  • Did you conform to a style that was around at the time you first got commissioned?
I suppose I had kind of a style but I changed it every year or so because I wasn't happy with it. I started working in a distinctive way after about 5 years.


  • If you have a recollection of my Portfolio, (I have included a pdf of a few of my designs), would you have any advice upon improving it? (I can appreciate you must have looked over a lot of work, but i would value your opinion greatly!
There's absolutely nothing wrong with your portfolio, just keep at it, refine it, diversify, keep on at potential clients and ask their advice on improving. also do your own self- initiated work, if you see something you like, copy it and incorporate it, don't be afraid to change your 'style' if necessary.


  • What advice would you offer an aspiring Illustrator?
just keep at it, no matter what.


otto






Paul Davis



Dear Paul, 
I am a student in my final year of a BA Hons in Illustration. I attended a lecture you gave at Stockport College, last year, your work is remarkable! As part of my degree, I need to build up information about Illustrators/ Designers and the Design Industry.  

  • I know how busy you are but was wondering if you get a spare moment, I could have your opinion on a few questions below?  

  • Do you think it is better working in a studio with other Illustrators who you can share your ideas with, as opposed to 'your own private space'? if so why?  

  • What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?  

  • What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration? Did you conform to a style that was around at the time you first got commissioned?  

  • Would you say it is hard to remain an established Illustrator when there are so many other illustrating practitioners within the design industry?  

  • You wont have seen my portfolio, but if you get time, I have included a Pdf, I would greatly appreciate your opinion and advice on improving any aspects of my designs. I can appreciate how busy you are but if you get the time, I would be over the moon to hear what you think.  

finally.. 

  • What advice would you offer an aspiring Illustrator?  

Thankyou so much for your time, any of your feedback to any of the questions would be greatly valued! 
I look forward to hearing from you! 
Kind Regards, 

Sarah Hilton.


Paul wrote back

Sarah,
give me a couple of days and in the meantime please read the Q & A section on my website.
Maybe you should ask me some stranger questions as I get these questionnaires a lot! Something like: Q "how do you put off working when you project is utter misery?" A "find weird websites, drink inordinate amounts of tea/coffee/wine/beer etc., go for long lunches, try to change the art directors mind, weep gently..."
Best,
Paul.




So from here, I had a quick peek on his website, and Im sure I hadnt been able to find a question section at first, but another glance, and typical.. there it was, and so have included a few of the questions asked from previous interviews until I further hear from him.

The questions I have included are typically acting as research at this point, I have found and included them upon the basis that they relate to the way I work and the Illustration industry. They would have been similar to questions I would have asked prior to Paul's reply.


Q: What is the difference between what you do and fine art?

A: Illustration, more often than not, dances on the grave of someone else's idea. Or,
if you're lucky, it embraces the idea like a forlorn lover. A drawing or image could be based
on a piece of journalism that has to be interpreted, or it could be required to illustrate a
six-month market research study about how to sell a soft drink. Obviously, financially, the
latter has more going for it. You could also be involved in generating ideas from the outset…
but I always feel that the creatives who offer this do it because perhaps they haven't thought
of anything, or because they feel a bit sorry for you. I've done all of these and, for many
reasons, I can't make up my mind which one I prefer. Then there is the
greetings cards scenario... Fine art, on the other hand, is marvelous in the sense that no
one tells you what to do—it's your shit, your soul, your brilliant idea. Much more free and
enjoyable, but scary as hell—there's no one to blame for the potentially rubbish work that can
be produced. Art and illustration aren't the same thing—that’s so obvious. I also don't like
illustrations put on the walls of galleries, as this seems to defeat the object of what
illustration is for. Illustration could work on the walls of a gallery as long as the work
on the gallery walls functioned as illustration. An illustrated gallery is wonderfully perverse...


Upon finding this question it made me think about promotion of my work, of any illustrators work and my design 'style' if you want to call it that, has developed and altered upon gaining knowledge of illustrators and the industry. As my work has changed, I used to be more of a fine artist and a maker, but learning of drawbacks when your within the industry, time for example, for a fine artist, you have all the time in the world to create a piece, but an illustration is developed and worked (in general, if we are talking editorials) over a period of days! It ultimatly has to be simple effective and communicate an idea. 

my work, has developed with shape, created mostly on the computer, this shape ultimatly lends a structure to a piece, yet, I still feel that without hand crafted elements my illustration would not fulfil to be what i consider an illustration to be. But then its finding the elements, and the right elements. Photographic imagery, textures, marks, comments from the people around you.

I chose to include Paul as a contact for the simple reason that his work communicates instantly, through imagery and type. Communication has been one of the elements of an illustration which i struggle with. Speaking to Andy Pavitt, who works with Paul Davis in the Big Orange studio in London, he was telling me how Paul creates atleast one illustration a day - to keep his ideas flowwing and to create an archive at the same time.


Q) What artists, or any people, do you admire and why?

A)I jumped the gun - see above. Also The Chapman Brothers. And, I'm not being a toady
about this because you are an Australian magazine, but The Angry Penguins show years
ago in London was excellent. The Fall. Nabokov. The tomorrow, and tomorrow, and
tomorrow quote from Macbeth. The Kawasaki 900 (1976/77). Sexual matters. Borders.
Colour. Reference books. Google. I could go on...so much to do.


Q) Placements and internships - a useful experience? Where did you work and what did you do?
A)I worked from home for many years but I would recommend doing an internship. Good way of
learning vocational stuff and good for contacts.



Q) A lot of your work -that I've seen- is derived from your sketches and drawings in your
notepads, just using photoshop to add colours/shades. Do you think that the rise of the
digital media has warped a lot of the current pool of illustrations out there? To the point
where people will miss the tangible creative methods to jump straight into computers.
and if so do you believe that this has watered down the quality of art out there?

A)I reckon it's still all about ideas that work and the medium is secondary but a certain
amount of skill in realising the idea is always essential. Illustration can take many forms
so the to be recognised is to work honestly and diligently without falling into the trap of
trendiness. Copying or 'being overly influenced' by a style is a problematic idea because
it's immediately seen as lazy and stupid.
Some student once declared to his peers "I can do a Davis, and I can do a Shrigley." No
he fucking couldn't, he's still a child. I told this to David and we agreed we're going to
find him a cut off his hands. Just to make him think a bit deeper. What an arse.
Computers are wonderful when used an abused properly. My Mac is a beauty - I can work
anywhere these days. All I need is a scanner and (preferably) wireless and I'm away. It's
the drawing that matters - and the idea within it.
I once saw a poster saying something like:
"SHARPEN YOUR PENCILS, DRAW, DISCARD DRAWING, TRY AGAIN, FILM THE DRAWING,
GET FILM PROCESSED, DRAW ON THE FILM, THINK MORE, ABANDON PROJECT, COME UP
WITH A DIFFERENT BUT GREAT IDEA, PRACTICE REALISING CONCEPT. EXPERIMENT USING
DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES, TRY AND FAIL, TRY AND FAIL, EVENTUALLY GET IT RIGHT. NOW
YOU CAN SWITCH ON YOUR COMPUTER"
I must add that I see nothing wrong in un-conceptual drawings or drawing for drawing's
sake because it's drawing or image making that isn't illustration. It irks me when I have
exhibitions with my drawings and paintings, people say they like the illustrations in the
show and I tell them they're not illustrations at all and I'd never put an illustration on a
gallery wall anyway because their job is to illuminate text or embellish someone else's
idea. Drawings are drawings. You have to see the work in context. I keep the work of a
jobbing illustrator and artist very separated. Some great art is done by creating it in the
machine too, mostly in Japan.




Q) What was the difference to your work from when you left your schooling, compared
to what you practice now- has anything drastically changed since then?

A)Hopefully the drawing has moved on a bit! The ideas are more mature, I work a lot
quicker and I hardly get any paid work on a regular basis. I tend to get a couple of big
jobs a year. The rest of the time is working on book projects, having shows or doing a
lecture tour which I wouldn't have been able to do back then because I didn't know very
much. (Judging by your questions, I'd say you are more together than I was). In the past
year I've done judging and talks and workshops in New York, Cape Town, Melbourne,
Sydney, Tokyo, Bristol, Coventry (ah, the glamour), Glasgow, among others. So yes,
things have changed as for as being invited to do stuff connected to the industry
because I've stuck at it and have gained some recognition. People write about my work
in magazines instead of commissioning me (ah, the irony).

Monday, 20 April 2009

Martin salisbury - email no.2

From the last mail I had included about Salisbury and previous contact, these are further questions which I mailed to him relating to the design industry, I also sent over some small samples of my work for his opinion.



Hello Martin,
I am a student in my final year of a BA Hons of Illustration. I attended a lecture you gave at Stockport College, last year, featuring your book, 'Playpen'. A beautiful illustrated book, which I still look back on for inspiration!

I emailed you some time after you attended, questioning your influences and inspirations. As part of my degree, I need to build up information about Illustrators/ Designers and the Design Industry.


I know how busy you are but was wondering if you get a spare moment, I could have your opinion on a few questions below? Primarily about your career as an illustrator


• Do you think it is better working in a studio with other Illustrators who you can share your ideas with, as opposed to 'your own private space'? if so why?

I think this depends on the individual. Some illustrators crave the studio environment and go mad on their own (can be a big shock after college), others need to work alone and can't concentrate any other way


• What would you say makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?

Assuming there is 'talent' there, I am quite sure that the key word is 'persistence'. I have known many very good graduates who I felt sure would do well, who simply haven't been persistent enough. Whilst others, with good ability but perhaps not as gifted, have just been persistent and well organised and done better. Quiet dtermination and professionalism is the key.



• What was the easiest way to establish and promote yourself within the wide world of Illustration?

It was very different for me. there were very few illustratots in the late 1970s when I graduated. i got a job from the first publisher I visited!


Did you conform to a style that was around at the time you first got commissioned?

'Style'? I hate that word! I suppose my work was unconsciously informed by the general vogue of the time which was for a mainly 'realist' approach. I loved drawing people and trying to create convincing narrative  'scenes'


• Would you say it is hard to remain an established Illustrator when there are so many other illustrating practitioners within the design industry?

Yes. Which is why it is important that your work doesn't consciously try too hard to pursue an idea of contemprary 'style' but has a distinct agenda aof its own. Ideas are important.



finally..


• You won't have seen my portfolio but if you get time, I have included a PDF, I would greatly appreciate your opinion and advice upon improving any aspects of my designs. I can appreciate how busy you are, but If you get the time I would be over the moon to her what you think.

i enjoyed looking at your samples. I don't like to comment on small images onscreen, out of context but I like your sense of colour and design. It looks as if you are focussing on the areas of design and editorial which are very competitive areas in which to establish yourself.
Good luck and do feel free to contact me.


Best wishes



Martin

Thankyou so much for your time, any of your feedback to any of the questions would be greatly valued! I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Sarah Hilton.

Monday, 13 April 2009

CIRCUS creations

Since i picked the topic subject of 'Circus' to work with, from recent projects, I have struggled on occassions with a self initiated brief, to create imagery that had a meaning, that had a purpose. For this, I suppose you could say I took the easy route and picked a story to illustrate.. After reading into Martin Salisbury's 'Playpen' and the in depth anylsis of childrens illustration, I developed a keen liking to childrens illustration. I have also been looking into Jim Flora and french illustrators Antoine and Manuel. All shapely design of which are constructed with strong colour, composition and simplicity.

By the time I will have completed the project, I will have an image for each chapter I complete, there are 26 chapters and upto now, I have atleast 15-20 images all at different stages.. the few I have included, are images I consider either finished or a rough final..

Above: the chapter depicts how Lotta, a circus girl, is learning to do tricks with the horses, she has to jump within a ring, that is on the broad side of the horses back. (ROUGH FINAL)

The above image, was created from a range of old circus imagery, that have an etching look to them, I try to use an element of this sort of imagery within most of my work. The cut and paste technique seems to have generated into an original style for me, it gives a different appeal, a look of building an image and 3dness instead of flatness, for me the image comes alive with this. and finally, shape, the element that holds my work together, that links each piece of imagery. For this project, after looking into book illustrations and format, I have 3 format proprtions to choose from depending on the image. a full page, a half page and a double page, just across the top of both pieces. Most of my designs so far, have been the half page, and so only develop into a size of 10 x 7cm, this is quite a small format, so the images have to be a somewhat simple detail.. so you can see exactly whats going on, but yet still have the integrity that depicts the making of the illustration. After looking at some 'Vignettes' , I have decided to create my designs in the same manner. 
Above: Lucky, the new dog of the Circus, is learning new tricks, one being how to push a pram, the chapter denotes how the dog steers the pram right round the ring, and so this large circular element denotes this. The image is not quite finished as yet, but its not far off. (ROUGH FINAL)
Above: An idea that has generated and changed a numerous amount of times. 'the new caravan', as the browns move in with the circus, they have their own caravan but are expected to clean it out in return for their gift from Mr. Galliano. After I have generated it a bit more it will be finished, but presently, the elements, are a bit all over, and too spread, and not correctly scaled. (ROUGH FINAL)
Above: the first final image, an exciting chapter where Jumbo - the elephant rampages through the town at night time, the dimmed colour, is reflective of the night as is the shadow around the elephant. As a first image, I decided to keep the shape of the elephant simple, this contrasted on the mixed media photographic elements in play with the shape, and gave the image a sense of movement. (FINAL)
Above: A chapter denoting the circus dogs, jumping through hoops, showing their tricks in play. Again the large shapes play the roll in holding this image together, they leave out the negative space in creating this vignette. (FINAL)