Student at Plymouth College of Art, Blog for my work and research.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Research - 3 Artists

I have looked into 3 different artists/illustrators that i aspire to and work in similar ways to me. I looked into their work and things they have published aswell as reading interviews and information about how they work and how they got to the point in their career they are at today.

Oliver Jeffers
He is one of my favourite illustrators in terms of style and character design. He writes his own stories that he illustrates himself which is something i would like to do in the future. He uses a mixture of media from watercolour and acrylics to collage. He has a comtemporary style and uses compostition and space to create his visually appealing illustrations. He also uses handwritten text in his work which is something i enjoy using in my own work.

The Great Paper Caper


The Incredible Book Eating Boy

I found this interview with Oliver Jeffers where he explains how his writing and illustrating process work  "They both happen at the same time. I kind of develop them simultaneously because they have to support each other."  Its really useful to see how illustrators work out and plan their projects, in the interview Oliver explains how he plans his pictuure books "I do a lot of storyboards, which can be the trickiest part sometimes — trying to get everything to fit into the 32 pages of the picture book and having the story flow over that space. That’s where a lot of the creativity comes into."

Amyisla McCombie
I love the style of Amyisla's illustrations, they are soft and delicate with the pencil drawings and pastel colours. I like how she uses pattern in some of her illustrations which i also like to use in my own work. I really like her character design and the faces of the people. She uses alot of white space in her work, leaving the focus on the character or object of the illustration, this is similar to how i like to make my illustrations, with little background.

I found an interview with Amyisla on Questioning Creatives
In the interview she says how important having constant visual inspiration is "You can never have too much inspiration! I collect lots of things, have lots of books and constantly go to museums and galleries. It rare that an idea appears from nothing". I think this is good advice to keep creative and keep ideas flowing.

Teagan White
I love the style of Teagan's work and she is one of my favourite illustrators. She works with the themes of nature and wildlife which is what i like to do in my own illustrations. I love how she personifies her animal characters and has them doing human things. Her use of colour lends itself to the theme, i prefer her watercolour work to her more recent digital colouring as i think it creates a better tone. 

Last year i emailed Teagan some questions and got a brilliant reply full of useful information and advice on illustration and the industry, here is a copy of the questions and answers.

How would you advise an illustration graduate to promote themselves and get known as a professional illustrator?
-       I think that simply marketing yourself online using social media goes an incredibly long way. Personally I don’t solicit work because I think that the process of putting yourself out there and getting rejected can take a toll on creative energy and be very discouraging; social media is great in that you can focus on making good work, put it online, and people will either respond positively or not at all (plus bloggers and other people in general do most of the work of spreading your stuff around). My basic belief is that if you’re not taking advantage of every major network available to you (Behance, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram) you’re crazy, because it’s a free way to get your work seen by as many people as possible. I also think that it’s important to post everything to all of these because different people will use different sites to follow you, and you can’t just post to one and expect someone to sign up for the site to keep up with you. Do your best to just be everywhere online, and make it really easy for people to be constantly reminded about your work. Beyond social media, it’s also great to enter shows (locally & nationally) & submit to periodicals (Society of Illustrators, 3x3, Creative Quarterly, CMYK, etc etc) which can get you seen by people who didn’t happen to come across your work online.
 What technical skills do you believe illustration graduates should have?
-       This depends mainly on what work you want to do; someone who wants to work in product illustration needs a lot more developed digital skills than someone who wants to do editorial illustration, for example. But at bare minimum I think that illustrators need to have enough of a handle on Photoshop to make quick and seamless revisions to their work (so the basic ability to change the colors in a piece even if it was done traditionally, and to stitch together pieces of an image if you have to redraw part of it). Otherwise you’re going to run into problems, because it’s unrealistic to expect that no one is going to request revisions to your final artwork, and typically you wouldn’t have time to redraw/repaint an entire final piece. You also need to have a basic understanding of print methods, appropriate web & print resolution, file formats, etc.
You could probably get by with just the above, but in my opinion, you should have a full working knowledge of most of Photoshop’s features, basic design & typographic skills, understanding of how to set up artwork on templates for print, and familiarity with Illustrator, vector vs raster, & Pantones. I’ve found that most clients expect you to have a handle on most of this – it wouldn’t necessarily mean that they wouldn’t work with you if you didn’t know this, but the easier you’re able to make things for them, the more likely they are to hire you again and the less problems will come up when you’re delivering final files and such.
 What personal qualities do you believe support a career as an illustrator?
-       I think that pretty much every successful freelance illustrator I know is a workaholic (ugh I hate that term). Basically, they tend to be extremely dedicated to their craft, up for working very long hours, and their world pretty much revolves around their career. Also common, but not universal, is for them to be very friendly, engaged, and open in their online presence & professional interactions, even if they are introverted or quiet in person. Other valuable skills are organization, very good written communication skills, ability to accept & interpret feedback without getting offended or discouraged, ability to juggle many projects – and good time management is extremely important.
 How do you find clients and get jobs?
First of all, if you haven’t already, I think that it’s really important before you start any intense self-promotion to have a fairly clear idea of what type of work you want to be doing, and where your work best fits in in the industry. My best general advice to people is to make sure that your portfolio reflects the type of work that you would like to be doing, and to look at your work with a critical eye and judge whether it would be easy for an art director, editor, or potential client to see specific practical applications for your work in their industry, and whether it’s unique enough for them to come to you over other illustrators, as it is a competitive field. Sometimes this means adding a few new projects to your website that are really tailored to the industry you’d like to work in, to really make it easy for people to see how they could use your work. This is something that everyone needs to do once in a while – for example, I’d like to be doing more work in stationery, greeting cards, and textiles, but I rarely get those opportunities because I don’t have much in that style on my website. Keep in mind that sometimes it doesn’t matter how amazing of an illustrator someone is, if there aren’t obvious uses for their work in the industry – I know some illustrators who do incredible work, but don’t get much or any freelance work because their work doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. In my own portfolio, the pieces that most people really like and that sell well as prints are not the same pieces I get calls on – most of my bigger projects are typography or black & white detailed drawings, because those are more often needed in the industry and there are not many people out there who have a good handle on both typography and drawing. As much as we all like to think of ourselves primarily as artists, it’s also a business that you have to sell.
But you may already have all of the above stuff worked out, and if you do, I’ll say again that I believe social media to be the best way to get your work seen by the largest amount of people – and if you’re seen enough, you’re GOING to get work. However, some people prefer to take more direct routes which are totally legit too, like sending out mailers to art directors, or signing up for services for illustrators to get work such as the Directory of Illustration or the i-Spot. Agents are another option, but in most cases it’s harder to get an agent than clients, and their job is as much about helping you manage your projects as it is about promoting you; you should be able to have projects coming in on your own without their help too in order for the relationship to be sustainable. In summary, there are actually a lot of resources available to you – my experience has been that the free online ones (that is, Behance & social networks) are the most effective, but if that doesn’t seem to work out for you engage in some of the other methods too!
What inspires and motivates you to be an illustrator? 
-       Well to be honest I don’t think I ever decided to be one exactly; I more just fell into it. I’ve been drawing & posting art online for a very long time, and once my work started to improve people started to contact me for small jobs – logos, album artwork, things like that. It was a long time before I really thought of myself as an illustrator, or realized that I was making a living off of it. However at this point it’s central to my own self-identity; it’s most of what I do and think about, and I wouldn’t know what I was doing with my life without it. I think the motivation comes from a couple different angles – one is financial, obviously I have to make a living, but since I’d be drawing anyway it always kind of feels like this cool game to get paid for it too. Another motivator is the abstract idea of being “successful” – an interesting job comes in, and I get really excited about it because there’s the general feeling that you’re progressing or getting somewhere (even if it’s kind of an illusion sometimes). But more than the career-type-stuff, my love for art in general is what really makes me passionate about what I do; the rest is all a bonus. Partly I’m inspired by other art that I see and by what other illustrators are doing, and I just get so excited about aesthetics and about making things that it would be painful to NOT make things. And partly, I think that so many things out in the world are so beautiful that I feel compelled to do something with it, to make work about it because what else can you do with overwhelming feelings of appreciation for the world you live in? Yeah, so I guess it’s a combination of all of those different things.

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