Happy April !
With the arrival of longer, warmer days - eating outdoors will be on the menu for many of us. Especially after the long, lockdown months of winter. That is why this month's desktop wallpaper celebrates April teatime treats by the sea.
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March over on Instagram was all about 'Meet The Maker'.
I began joining the challenge with all good intentions, but it soon fell to the side when life got in the way. To be honest, after such a long lockdown, where everything - work, shopping, socialising, entertainment - needed to be off a screen, I found I simply had, had enough of screen time. So concluded that it was probably best I didn’t stick to a daily Instagram challenge and give myself a bit of freedom and a break.
However, I always find these sort of ‘get to know’ the maker or artists a lovely insight into the faces behind the creations....
Which made me think it would be nice to share with you, some of the answers I have recently given for an upcoming blog interview (more about that next time),
to help you get to know me a little better.
Here is my alternative
'April Meet The Illustrator'...
Q: How and when did you first become interested in illustration?
I can’t remember not ever being interested in illustrations and drawings. I loved picture books as child and was a big fan of Tony Hart, I always wanted to have a studio like his. I think watching him draw and pouring over illustrated books when I was little, made me want to draw for a living when I grew up. As a teenager I used to say I wanted to become a ‘commercial artist’ meaning in my mind, an artist that made money - perhaps drawing for books, magazines, adverts, packaging or home decor. Then my school art teacher saw how keen I was and encouraged me to think about studying a foundation art course at college and consider taking Graphic Design as one of my GCSE options, which thankfully I did. This was the first time I really became aware of the career options available to me, I am so grateful to have had some good teachers and tutors along the way, who encouraged me and helped point the way for me.....
Q: What’s a typical day like?
A typical working day means to be ready and at my desk for 9am, just as I would if I was back working in an office. I tend to stick to a normal working week as much as possible, Monday to Friday 9 to 6 with a couple of very important breaks. Sometimes it doesn’t always work like that, but when I do stick to that schedule, things get done and it all feels right. Each day is a little different depending on what projects I am working on. I tend to work in a few different ways to bring income into my business. For instance, I have an Etsy and Folksy shop, so a couple of mornings a week I am focussed on processing orders from them, making sure I have enough stock and that my listings are up to date. Other days I will be designing commissioned projects for other businesses, such as new products e.g. greetings cards, gift wrap, patterns for licensing or developing marketing materials and branding. In between managing my online shops and designing to a client brief, I also ensure I keep creating and adding new designs to add to my print-on-demand shops like Spoonflower, Society 6 and add to my portfolio to make available for licensing....
Q: Can you tell us about your creative process from the inception of an idea through to the finished piece?
When I get a spark of an idea, I usually scribble something down, a note or a doodle, in my notebook or on a scrap of paper. Then I gather those scraps of notes, along with any research, colour palettes and inspirational images so that when I’m ready to set to work and develop a design they are all ready and waiting for me. I tend to start with line drawing on paper with a black fibre tipped pen and then use those drawings to colour digitally. At the moment that tends to be mostly in Adobe illustrator because I find it easier to quickly apply my designs to so many different design formats. One of the positive things to come out of lockdown and having the girls at home, is my youngest daughter has helped me learn a trick or two on Procreate. Consequently, I have been using my iPad much more and either use it as a sketchbook, or to photograph and then colour up drawings before exporting them to Adobe illustrator....
Q: You create bright and colourful designs - can you tell us a little about your use of colour?
When I started creating my own collections of designs, I wanted to make sure they were bright and cheerful and all the sort of things I want to surround myself with. I love flowers and always plant lots of bright spring and summer bedding plants each year, because even on a gloomy rainy day those brilliant colours shine through. That’s what I want my work to feel like, a pop of bright, playful colour in a gloomy, serious world!
Life is too short not to see and enjoy the bright blooms!...
Q: What inspires your work?
I am very inspired by the nature that surrounds us. I love living in the South West and that influences me a lot. When I’m not designing, I’ve found learning gardening not only helps with getting inspired to design, but also helps me plan and run my design business and creative process. There are lots of similar disciplines involved. For example, planting seeds (ideas), feeding and attending to them, but most of all, learning to have masses of patience to wait for those seeds to bloom even after all the hard work and attention you have given them....
Q: What career would you have pursued if you weren’t an illustrator?
Before I went freelance, I worked in advertising agencies in client services. After I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design, Illustration, I struggled to find work freelancing. The simple truth is I was very naive about the business side of design which wasn’t covered well by the course I studied. Having specialised in illustration in the early 1990s, I had very little experience of designing on a mac, so couldn’t work in a design department not being experienced enough in the mac design packages of the day. Eventually I found my way into a creative industry as a ‘suit’ rather than as a ‘creative’. That turned out to be a great way to learn all the skills I needed to set my self up confidently as a freelancer and survive - especially dealing with marketing, contracts and the legal aspects of design. So to answer the question, in the past I had to pursue a different career path in order to gain the skills needed to succeed in the career I have always dreamed of doing....
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Keep creating, have patience and create some more. Put your work out into the world and then create some more. Whilst you are waiting for things to happen with the work you have put out into the world, create some more and put that out into the world. Keep going like this. Perseverance, practice and patience is all you really need to know. You may need to do other things to get by whilst you are going through this process, alas that is the reality, but that makes you no less an illustrator, designer or artist. Full time, part time, a little bit on the side - if you are regularly selling your designs, you are an artist, so keep going!
I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little better
and discover how I came to do what I do and why!
Wishing you a very lovely April
Enjoy those colourful blooms!