A new map commission I did for the latest issue of Computer Arts magazine. This one’s for Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
A fun map commission for Computer Arts magazine. The feature is on creative quarters - favourite neighbourhoods of creatives around the world. This one’s of the Mile End neighbourhood in Montreal.
I illustrated an article in the first issue of Hello Mr. on ‘Twelve Steps to Break a Heart’. It’s a wonderful, new magazine about men-who-date-men and it’s out now!
Pop junkies, listen up! My friend Marc has written a wonderful book about his 20-odd years as a pop culture journalist, including stints at Smash Hits in the UK and Australia. Interviews and stories such as hiding from Tina Turner at Madge’s Truth or Dare party, discovering Take That jelly-wrestling, hanging with Kylie just before her first date with M.Hutchence. Lady Gaga, Joan Rivers, Adam Lambert, Mariah Carey, One Direction, Johnny Depp, they’re all in there!
I also contributed the illustrations for the cover.
This is juicy. Get it as an e-book from Amazon HERE
So it turns out I was one of the winners of this thing here. So exciting! Will be great to see my illustration in print in Soho. Thanks to everyone who voted for me, looks like the judges agreed with you!
It’s been 7 months since I left my home in Sydney and moved to London to spend a year here working on my illustration career. This had been a good year or so in the planning, as I had to apply for the Youth Mobility scheme visa before I turned 31, which was last year. I really wanted to take the opportunity to live and work overseas whilst I could. As a self-taught, freelance illustrator, I doubt I would have the education or income to qualify for one of the other ‘highly skilled migrant’ visas. I’m also really lucky to have the support of such an amazing, understanding partner, who let me go ahead with my plans to live overseas, even though he couldn’t.
I love London. I spent a month here the previous year, staying with my sister who was doing the same UK working visa that I’m now doing myself. It’s such a vibrant, creative, interesting city. So much bigger and denser than Sydney. There’s a lot more culture, in all shapes and forms. Culture, individualism and anything remotely creative seems to be lovingly embraced here. It seems logical given that the weather here leads to people being indoors a lot more, rather than back in Sydney where Aussie culture revolves a lot around sport and outdoor activities. I love that I can wear really nice, smart clothes and not have people think I’m a wanker for over-dressing. London has brought my sartorial sense out of the closet and it’s not going back in.
It has been both easier and harder than I thought to achieve what I wanted here, work-wise. I joined the AOI, which has been a great resource. They gave great advice and feedback re: my portfolio as well as sell directories of contacts in the areas of editorial, publishing and advertising. I did a postcard mailout using these and I’ve gotten several commissions out of this. My next step is to refine the list of clients I want to work with and cherry-pick my samples I send out to more specifically target each one. I think my first mailout was too general. The advice I’ve been given is to show each potential client exactly what they want to see - ie a sample that they would be likely to commission from you for a typical project.
I’ve found myself growing more confident in my work. Whilst I’ve been here, I’ve done commissions for Virgin Media, Computer Arts magazine, Scout London, a book pitch, several projects for Warner Music Australia, as well as several personal projects. Some of my works have been shortlisted for the Illustrators Australia awards. When I list it, I do realise that I have achieved a lot in the pretty short space of time I’ve actually been a professional illustrator. I have a newfound perspective and approach to my work, which I’m looking forward to applying when I get back to Sydney.
Sometimes I am hard on myself when I’m not kicking the goals I idealised before I came here, such as landing an agent, working on a major brand, getting commissions flying into my inbox. The reality is it’s harder, even for illustrators who have been doing this a lot longer than me. The economic climate isn’t great for Britain, many publications and agencies have reduced budgets and are less likely to take risks with their commissions. There’s also a HUGE amount of illustrators in this country, most of whom are extremely talented and good at what they do. I think this is a result of great arts education, especially with degrees and streams actually specialising in Illustration. We don’t have that back home in Australia. There is a big difference in how people approach their careers. Here, you’re encouraged to specialise and be really great at one thing i.e illustration (this is what I want to do, how I see my career). In Australia, you’re encouraged to be a jack-of-all-trades. A slashie. Illustrator/designer/whatever. I struggled with this, as I really wanted to just be an illustrator. Not a graphic designer. I think it’s great to be multi-skilled and be able to apply my illustration to various platforms, such as animation, but here, to stand out, I need to carve out my niche and be really good at what I do best.
I’m also working part-time at Kemistry Gallery, which is in Shoreditch, right near where I live. It’s a great little gallery, focussing on graphic design and illustration. They’ve shown some of my favourite illustrators - Geoff McFetridge, Parra, James Joyce, Genevieve Gauckler. There’s a show coming up for Jean Jullien, who I’m so excited to meet (hopefully I don’t fanboy and freak him out). Working here has been such a stroke of luck, not just in terms of being able to pay my rent (this is important), but surrounding myself with illustrators I look up to and networking. Matt, who helps manage the gallery, is also a really talented illustrator himself and has given me lots of great advice on working as an illustrator in London.
I’ve only got 5 months left here - so the goals I’m aiming to achieve are:
- Get an agent
- Get more magazine/publishing clients. Magazines like Wired, GQ, Wallpaper*, New Scientist, Creative Review, Nobrow. Like everyone else, I’d love to work with Penguin.
- Write and illustrate a graphic book/zine.
- Take part in a group show
- Enter the AOI awards - this is not a difficult goal, but there’s a month til the deadline and they’re quite prestigious illustration awards. To be recognised would be amazing.
- Improve my drawing skills - I’m starting a life drawing class tomorrow!
My resolution for 2013, workwise, is to finish everything I start. I’m the KING of starting things but never actually finishing them, or taking forever to. I’m resolving to be more proactive, especially in terms of self promotion, but mostly in disconnecting a bit from social media and tv and instead concentrating on finishing the task at hand.
A little over a year ago, I was involved in an awards scheme that aims to send young Aussie creatives to the UK to realise their dreams. I was a finalist, but unfortunately didn’t win one of the grants. The feedback I received from the panel was to suggest I not go to the UK yet and instead focus on increasing my profile in Australia, despite the fact that I actually probably wouldn’t be able to get a UK work visa if I’d waited til the next year, I’d be too old or too poor to qualify for any visa. I’d even stated in my interviews that I was at the cut-off age to get a youth work visa. Considering there was nobody on the panel who either was an illustrator, or had any real experience or knowledge of the illustration industry, I decided to completely ignore their advice.
Luckily, nobody in the UK seems to care where I’m from or what my ‘profile’ as an illustrator is back home. So far, my decision seems to be paying off.
I really encourage any of you thinking about living and working here to do so. Take the opportunity whilst you can and give it a go (immigration seems to be tightening up here in the UK). The Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa is VERY easy to get (if you’re from a Commonwealth country), you just have to be between 18-30 years old and have about $AU3000 saved up.
Not only is London an amazing city, but you can do lots of travel! I’ve been to Antwerp, Brussels, Budapest, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Tuscany and Berlin. I’d like to see Scandinavia before I head home and also Scotland.
Living in another city has made me more self-aware. Living with other people, living in a VERY multicultural neighbourhood, living halfway across the globe from my partner - it has been a culture shock. It’s character building and I strongly recommend it. You do learn what is and isn’t important to you, you meet new people, make friends, experience different ways of life.
You may even get to hold the Olympic Torch, run into a famous actor like Ben Whishaw, go to great gigs like Radiohead, Robyn, the XX and Passion Pit (where the cost of the tickets combined is possibly the cost of 1 Radiohead ticket back home), set off fireworks from a champagne bottle on the balcony of your apartment, meet a street cat named Bob, miss out on meeting Richard Branson because you were accidentally left off a VIP list, take part in an experiential group-theatre performance which has ‘Bum Bum Train’ in the title and involves you pretending to eat capers for 5hrs, decide to put-a-ring-on-it, realise that the world is much bigger (and smaller) than you thought and all those people in London you admire and look up to are just normal people like you.
I’m looking forward to what the rest of 2013 brings. Thanks for reading - if you’ve managed to read all the way through! If any of you have any questions about London or illustration, my inbox is open, send me a message.
I redesigned the logo for Scout London’s magazine cover and website.