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Thursday, 19 December 2013

INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA INNOCENT

" In terms of approaching illustration agencies don't make the mistake of waiting because you don't think you're ready or your work is not good enough yet, let them be the judge of that, just call them! Most agencies are very excited about seeing new work and are ready to give you some super useful advice as to where they think you might fit in to the mix." 
(Andrea Innocent)

I recently had the utmost privilege of asking three exceptionally talented Australian illustrators some questions about the industry and their own work. The last of these three interviews is Melbourne illustrator and graphic designer Andrea Innocent.

First of all, you are Vice President for Illustrators Australia – a not for profit community of illustrators that includes access to events and online portfolio sharing. How does an organisation such as Illustrators Australia assist in helping illustrators with their career?

I joined Illustrators Australia in 2008, a month after I joined I got my first job via my portfolio page on the IA website, it paid for my membership fee and more. IA is well respected amongst art directors and designers in Australia, being a part of the IA community means being seen as a professional illustrator. It's like being represented by an agent in a way however you have the ability to have a real say in how IA is run. IA also is a terrific resource for information, pricing and contract examples can be downloaded from the site and there are lots of other illustrators available to chat to about all sorts of things to do with illustration as a career. 

Does having an illustration agent greatly assist in helping emerging illustrators find work? And if so, do you have any advice on how to approach illustration agencies for representation?

Clients who use illustration agents are serious about illustration, this also usually means they have serious money, thus the jobs are good for your portfolio as well as well paid. Surviving on your own and working freelance is definitely possible but it requires lots of work and marketing by yourself, whereas an agent can promote you as well as put you forward for jobs that suit your style and voice. In terms of approaching illustration agencies don't make the mistake of waiting because you don't think you're ready or your work is not good enough yet, let them be the judge of that, just call them! Most agencies are very excited about seeing new work and are ready to give you some super useful advice as to where they think you might fit in to the mix.


Where do you think the main opportunities for emerging illustrators lie? Is it a matter of creating your own work or do you think collaboration is key?

Media has become very screen centric, the rise of smart phones and tablets has meant there are a lot more opportunities to create visual assets for them. Digital story telling is becoming the main vehicle through which companies are promoting their products and services, digital story boarding, character design, games design, there are so many ways an illustrator can draw tomorrow!

Within design agencies are illustrators sourced regularly or is this usually an in-house job?

In my experience it's a little of both, the jobs that have short deadlines and less money are usually done in house, jobs that need a higher skill set or style are farmed out... that said I have recently been getting lots of the former jobs too.


Do you have advice for approaching design agencies as an illustrator?

Find out the art directors name and send an email with a link to your work, follow this up with a postcard. Make a mailing list gradually, send out 5 - 10 a week, keep a record and make sure you check back now and then. Most art directors I know are always really happy to hear from illustrators, it gives them something to work with when sourcing visuals for a client.

How did you start your own illustration career? Did you study or was it a matter of self learning through experience?

I would say a little of both...
I started my design career in Fashion Design, I then ran my own business in fashion with a focus on textile design. I decided to return to school sometime later and studied my Masters of Multimedia, I then travelled to Japan and started drawing everyday. One thing led to another and I ended up illustrating, my first job was for a film festival in Canada, they had found me via a blog called drawn.ca.


What challenges do you think Illustrators face in a contemporary market place?

Pricing and marketing are the two main challenges. Marketing became free and easy for everyone via the internet, this is great but it has also led to an unending source of visuals online that each and every illustrator and artist must compete with to be seen, the real art is now in getting noticed, hopefully for all the right reasons. Prices for illustrations are also dropping dramatically, with an abundance of people online willing to work for low prices or exposure' which makes it difficult to work for a liveable wage. Having a particular style or technique that makes you unique can give you an edge and hopefully you will be able to command higher prices for your work. It helps to also be a really nice person to work for;-)

Do you think the digital age has made it easier for illustrators to get their work out there?

Yes, see above.


What do you think the future of illustrative print publications might be? Is it a shrinking medium due to the computer age or do you think that printed works are in fact becoming more treasured pieces?

Print is both a shrinking medium and becoming a treasured, this is a good thing, maybe we can go back to hard cover books with foil embossing and specially printed illustrations. I am of the opinion that illustrators should not sit and wait and guess what will happen in the future but instead go out there and make it happen, we have the power to create some amazing work, like I always say 'let's be making happy pictures!'.

You can check out Andrea's beautiful and thought provoking work via her page on Jacky Winter: Andrea Innocent portfolio as well as her webpage: Andrea Innocent

All images in this blog post belong to Andrea Innocent.




Friday, 13 December 2013

Interview with Laura Wood

"I started doing this work later in life.. But I wasn't happy and one day I decided to change my path because I realised I couldn't do a job where my heart wasn't there. So I allowed myself to dream again and for the first time I let my heart choose instead of my brain…" (Laura Wood)

I recently had the utmost privilege of asking three exceptionally talented Australian illustrators some questions about the industry and their own work. 

In the answering seat for my second interview is Melbourne illustrator Laura Wood. Earlier in the year while waiting for a friend at a cafe I was flicking through a magazine. I came across a striking illustration that fascinated me in the way the illustration managed to tell a story in one single frame. I took a quick picture on my iPhone making sure I could read the illustrators name. Later I went searching online to find out more about the artist behind the picture. I ended up finding Laura Woods blog and Facebook page. After following both of these for a few months one day I decided I was brave enough to write an email to her asking for advice about the industry. The advice I got was invaluable. Recently I contacted Laura again and was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed. 


ABOVE: The picture I took of the editorial illustration that led me down the path to discovering the wonderful work of Laura Wood.

First of all congratulations on your new book ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” published by Ladybird. How did you manage to become the illustrator for this new book? How long did it take to illustrate?

I was lucky enough to work with Ladybird Books thanks to my agency, Good Illustration. When they offered me the gig, I was happy to accept the job, which was also my very first book project. 
From start to finish, it took me a couple of months, but not as a full time job.. in the meantime I was doing doing other work and finishing my diploma. 

You are a member of Illustrators Australia – a not for profit community of illustrators that includes access to events and online portfolio sharing. How does an organization such as Illustrators Australia assist you in your career?
For a freelance illustrator like me, Illustrators Australia is a good reference point able to provide support and exposure. 
Also, being involved in such community is a great opportunity to meet other people that share the same passion for illustration. 
Does having an illustration agent greatly assist you in helping you find work? And if so, do you have any advice on how to approach illustration agencies for representation?
So far, having an agent for me has meant getting work and recognition from bigger and more prestigious clients. 
However, I think it's still essential for me to keep promoting and actively looking for work by myself.
To approach an agent, I would recommend to send a quick and polite email with a link to your online portfolio explaining the reasons while you're contacting them. If they think you two could work together, they will contact you back!

Where do you think the main opportunities for emerging illustrators lie? Is it a matter of creating your own work or do you think collaboration is key?
For me it's all about creating my own work. But everyone is different and what works for me it might not work for someone else. 
So I believe the main opportunities lie in the things we find more comfortable doing. 
Within the world of design agencies are illustrators sourced regularly or is this usually an in-house job?
Mmm... not really sure. I haven't had lot of experience with design agencies so I can't really say. 
ABOVE: Illustration by Laura Wood while she was still studying. 

How did you start your own illustration career? What drew you to this as something you wanted to do for work?
I started doing this work later in life, after already having started a career in a completely different job. 
But I wasn't happy and one day I decided to change my path because I realised I couldn't do a job where my heart wasn't there. 
So I allowed myself to dream again and for the first time I let my heart choose instead of my brain...
What challenges do you think Illustrators face in a contemporary market place?
One of the challenges is for sure the fact that it's often not easy to get the economical recognition our work deserve. This is often because clients don't know how the our industry work and how much our work is worth.
Also freelancers have to face the challenge of running a business. This means they need to deal with tasks other than drawing and illustrating, such as managing money and marketing. 
Do you think the digital age has made it easier for illustrators to get their work out there?
Yes, absolutely. I truly believe thru the internet we have now the possibility to put our work under the eyes of creative directors all over the world in matter of seconds and without spending a cent. 
I think it's fantastic. 
What do you think the future of illustrative print publications might be? Is it a shrinking medium due to the computer age or do you think that printed works are in fact becoming more treasured pieces?
I'm not an expert on the matter, so I can't really predict what is going to happen in 10 or 50 years about print publications. 
However I think books and print products will always keep a place in our lives, no matter how digitalised we get. 
My hope is that the digital market and the print publications would coexist and be two different and complementary possibilities for illustrators. 


The above illustrations are from a brand new interactive app illustrated by Laura Wood "The Three Bears and Goldilocks" available via iTunes. 

To follow Laura's journey and to get updates on all her amazing work and projects check out her blog: Laura Wood's Blog or her web page: Laura Wood Illustration