My name is Dola Sun, a Chinese girl born in a beautiful coastal city. Now I’m living and working as an freelance illustrator based in New York City.
When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
Drawing is the my favorite thing to do in my childhood. Being an illustrator is a dream to me since I was around 13 years old. I know it’s pretty hard to be a full time freelance illustrator. So I was working at game company as concept artist after I graduated from college, while I was getting freelance illustration jobs at the same time.
With the course of time, I realized that instead of doing concept art, being an illustrator is what I truly want. Then I decided to pursue my master degree in illustration and tried to start with my illustration career.
Would you recommend studying at art school?
Yes, I do think studying at art school is necessary, at least for me. I learned a lot from my school, especially the way how illustrators think. Illustration is story telling, not like draw or paint it directly. So what I learned from school which is really matters to me is how to solve problems visually.
How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
I received my master degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design in last November. I began working as an illustrator since then.
Could you describe your typical day?
I usually get up late around 9-10, then feed myself well brunch. Working for 6-9 hours a day is the average working hours that wouldn’t make me feel guilty as a freelancer. Ideally I will go outside to workout for 1 hour after I get off from work. But it happens if I get pretty busy, I will be keeping working all the day until I fall asleep.
What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
How to promote and break into the illustration market is quite a big problem to most students who graduate from school.
What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Drawing illustration was my hobby all the time since I was a kid. The best thing for me about being an illustrator is ‘I could make a living with my hobby’. It is like, no working pressure comes up. I never felt mentally tired even I kept working for a really long time. As I love traveling, the flexible working schedule as freelance illustrator is also a great thing to me.
What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
The income is not stable as full time jobs, and it’s kind of hard for most illustrators who just got off from school. But after a period time, it would be fine and more stable if you get clients’ connections.
If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
I might be running a hostel in Tibet? Or somewhere else which is peaceful to me.
Any other tips you could share?
Find something you truly love and truly want to express from your illustrations, something came from your personality and deep down. Then work on that, that would be your unique thing.