Questioning Creatives

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This article was written on 08 Jan 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Dan Robinson Miller

My name is Dan Miller, I am an illustrator and art director (working as Losttime). My work is mainly for marketing and advertising purposes, ranging from publications, adverts, storyboards to character and mascots. Most of my work is created in Adobe Illustrator and then finished off in Photoshop.

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When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
I guess it has always been something I have thought about doing. When I was a kid I wanted to draw cartoons, make adverts or be a professional golfer – and at the moment I am working full time as an art director for a marketing agency and running my own illustration and design freelance business – but not playing golf any more, but 2 out of 3 is not too bad.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
I really would – I did GCSE art at school, but then had a falling out with them before my A-Levels so dropped it. After doing my A-Levels in very none creative subjects I could not make a decision on what to do next. I still loved art and drawing and suggested that I go and do a foundation course at art college – my school was not over supportive as I had not done A-Level art, and after applying to a couple of different courses I got a place and it was the best thing I have ever done. The freedom of art college and being surrounded by so many creative people really helped me work out what I wanted to do and the direction I wanted to take my career. It was from here I specialised in graphic design and went on to do my degree

How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
As I mentioned earlier I am currently working full time as an art director and designer for a marketing agency, but having illustration as a skill has defiantly helped me in my career. I still work everything out on paper, illustrate/visualise any new design concepts for clients to see, create storyboards, mascot/character designs to illustrations for campaigns and publications. Drawing and illustration is a very transferable skill and I think a lot of employers are really interested in seeing people that can offer both.

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What do you wish you  ‘d know when you first started out?
More about the actual business of being an creative. I came out of uni (and I have found this with a lot of graduates I have employed and worked with) with a bit of a creatives arrogance – I thought I knew best and would create work that I wanted to create. However you soon find out that the clients are the boss, and sometimes you have to do what they want, after all they are paying. Compromise is the name of the game sometimes, as an old creative director I work for told me “you have decided to work in the commercial sector, if you want to create work you want then become an artist”. Also I had no real idea about budgets and timelines especially on the design side of my career. It is also a business – so it is not all about drawing and creating pretty things. You need to sort out your tax, bank accounts, paperwork, receipts and dealing with your clients and building the relationships – all of which are as important as the actual work, if not as fun.

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Doing something that you love all day. You will sometimes forget when deadlines are closing in, clients are being a pain and your chasing invoices – but don’t forget that you are being paid to draw, I can’t think of anything better.

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What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
Not being rich, only the few will make a lot of money.

The self doubt. It is a very competitive business and there are a lot of very talented people out there. Especially with the propagation of social media, more people than ever have a voice and are able to show their work and you will have days where you just don’t think you are good enough and it seems everyone is doing amazingly well. Don’t let this get to you, keep going have faith and you will be fine.

It is also hard work with long nights especially when you get started and to get those first few commissions under your belt.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
Probably a chef – just before I went to art college I had a summer job working in the kitchen of a country hotel and had the option to stay and train there.

www.losttimedesign.com

 

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