How would you describe what you do?
I am a full-time, self-employed illustrator, and have been since I graduated. I am my own company; the problem with that is that the more your work gets seen, the more jobs you’ll (hopefully!) get offered. If you’re a business and your workload increases, you can employ more staff, but I can’t increase my output. I’m just me.
I’ve been lucky enough to work on all sorts of jobs, from textile design and music videos to maps and portraits. But 99.9% of the time, what my clients require are 2D images. I’ve worked directly for individuals and for much larger companies where I’m a very small cog in the machine. Both come with pros and cons. With an individual, you develop a close relationship and can have much more freedom. Larger companies will often use my drawings in more unusual ways: hoardings, large light box displays, luxury books, 3D installations – there was even talk of some of my work being turned into a company umbrella. This is fun, but the downside is that work often has to be ok’ed by an onslaught of people, and all sorts of boxes have to be ticked that you didn’t even know existed.
What does a typical working day look like?
My studio is a ten-minute walk from my home, along the seafront. I used to work from home but I realised it would be healthier to see people every day. I think a lot of illustrators have this issue. I have a room in a building with a real mix of creative people: animators, ceramicists, photographers, illustrators and a taxidermist.
Over time I’ve learnt that it’s better to work on one job a day, and to break large projects into daily chunks – it feels good to arbitrarily tick something off a list. It also means that if something doesn’t go to plan, I’ve only lost a day.
The dream is to keep to 9 to 5 hours but it all depends on deadlines – if you need to find more time, then you can. Parts of year are also busier than others, especially before the holidays, when clients want things wrapped up before they leave.