Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 18 Sep 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Elisa Cunningham

I am 22 years old. I live in beautiful Cornwall. I just graduated from Falmouth University, where I spent the best 4 years of my life and now I’m a freelance illustrator, so I haven’t been in the business for too long at all!

Jo Birthday card

When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator? 
I think it was during my art and design foundation year. However at that point I was still a bit unsure as to whether illustration was for me, as I had it in my mind that it was all just about children’s story books and drawing chubby little characters. It wasn’t until I started my degree that illustration came alive to me and I saw that it could allow me to do everything I wanted to do and that it wouldn’t put my artistic practice into a box at all.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
Yes, definitely. Or, more to the point, I’d definitely recommend Falmouth University! I loved every moment of it. It so inspiring and you learn so much when you’re around so many like-minded, motivated and talented people; people who are going to go on to become some of the best in their field.


How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
I’m just getting some of my first commissions, so I still have a part time job to keep the pennies rolling in. Even in the future, I think I might still like to have some kind of small second job, for a bit of a change of scene… I love hanging out at my desk, but people watching and chatting and going places and doing things that are completely different to illustration are inspiring too!

Could you describe your typical day?
My days are quite varied. I work a few days at Truro Arts Company. I’m a Kid’s Workshop Coordinator along with fellow illustrator, Amy Brocklehurst. We just get to paint and draw and make and screen print and learn about artists with lots of kids! It’s great! I also do a bit of youth work with my church, so I just get to hang out with teenagers that are way cooler than me! And the rest of the time you’ll find me sitting at my lovely big desk, on my spinny chair, next to a big window, making pictures. And if I’m not in one of those three places, I’m in transit on my bike.


What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
Don’t compare yourself too much to others. Know that you have a unique talent and try to find your niche. Don’t just try to make your work look like someone else’s; find what comes naturally and do what you love!

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Drawing. I love it. Can’t get enough of it.

What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
There not being enough hours in the day! There’s always so much I want to do! And so much I want to draw!


If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
I think a baker! Maybe I could be both?!

Any other tips you could share?
Carry a sketchbook wherever you go and draw every day.


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