Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 15 Mar 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Estelle Morris

I’m twenty-four and live in lovely Cambridge, after graduating from my Illustration degree here in 2010. At the moment I’m a Development Manager at a luxury packaging company, alongside working as a freelance illustrator the rest of the time. My aim is to be fully freelance, but I’m not sure when that will happen.

PrintWhen did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
I’ve always wanted to be an ‘artist’ since school, and I guess that feeling never went away.

I studied graphics at GCSE level, then fashion at College. From there, I realised it was the illustration side that I loved the most so after a year on an Art Foundation course, I went to University to gain an Illustration Degree. I think I realised it was an ‘illustrator’ I wanted to be through College; even though it was mainly fashion illustration at the time, I loved the idea of communicating an idea or concept through drawing.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
My experience of art school was varied, I absolutely loved College and was gutted to leave – however moving away from my home city and going to Uni was the best thing I ever did, and has enabled me to start my own life and make a huge amount of friends. I do feel a little ripped off by the whole thing in terms of value, just because I (along with almost every other student) now have a huge debt and not necessarily a lot to show for it. With something like illustration, you come out of Uni still not knowing what you want to do and with no guaranteed job lined up. Saying that, I’d do it all over again.

For me though, it was more about the experience as a whole and not just the degree. It made me realise what opportunities are out there and what is commercially ‘good’, in terms of my work. I made lifelong friends, from starting in Cambridge not knowing anybody. It just develops you as a person I think, whatever course you decide to do. Make the most of it! Spend the first year off your face and then knuckle down in second/third year…

Myths of the near future - Estelle Morris

How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
I’m nowhere near that stage yet! I think it happens at a different time for everyone, it could be straight after Uni or ten years down the road… I do like the full time job I have, but I would still rather scrape a living as a freelance illustrator. I’ve been building up a few contacts and taking on unpaid/paid/not very well paid commissions since I graduated. Sometimes I do feel like jacking it all in as it seems like it might never happen! But then I have a cuppa and carry on.

I’ve realised it’s extremely hard work to become a freelance artist. Seemingly impossible. But I genuinely don’t want to do do anything else, so here I am.

Could you describe your typical day?
I work a nine to five full time job, so on weekdays I get home around 6-6.30pm. I chill out for a while, check emails/blogs etc and then work on illustrations all evening. I tend to work better at night, so sometime stay up until 12-1am if I get really into something! I’ll prioritise any paid work I have first, and then work on my own stuff or things for friends or other projects. At weekends I’ll try to work most of the day if I can – unless I’m going out or away then I’ll put my illustration work first

What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
That I should have more confidence in my work, and that I should have taught myself how to use Adobe suite programs in first year!

I also kind of wish I hadn’t fallen into a full time job… although I hated working at previous crappy jobs it possibly would have pushed me more to go freelance, whereas when you’re earning a good wage you can become complacent.

Lana Del Rey - Estelle Morris

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Being paid to do something you love. The satisfaction of someones good feedback on a piece you’ve done for them. Owning lots of pencils.

What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
Hand strain! Being expected to work for free. People who say it’s ‘just drawing’ and think it’s easy.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
I possibly would have gone into fashion design… and I do like baking. Plus for some reason I’m hairdresser to most of my friends.

Any other tips you could share?
Work hard! Go out looking for jobs, they won’t necessarily come to you. Travel.

Controller - Estelle Morris

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