Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 21 Jan 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Jennifer Lewis

I am a 35 year old illustrator/designer living in Boston, MA, I have a degree in illustration. I have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2004. Sometimes my work could be considered painting or design, I even dabble a bit in sculpture.


When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
My earliest concrete memory of wanting to be an illustrator was in third grade when I saw the works of Lisbeth Zwerger and  Garth Williams, but I had always loved drawing.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
Yes, It is amazing to be surrounded by creative people that are just as passionate about illustration as you are. It also helps to form bonds and connections with creatives that go beyond your college years. Art school also allows you the time for you to focus exclusively on your craft and be inspired by others.


How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
Illustration is still not my primary form of income, thou I hope someday it is. Currently I work at a coffee shop part-time and spend the rest of my time painting. I am also studying graphic design and hope to make a little bit of a day-job shift in a few years.

Could you describe your typical day?
My typical day varies a lot depending on if I have classes or work. If I have the day off (or a night shift at the coffee shop) I will make my morning cup of coffee, check my e-mail, organize my paints and arrange my workspace according to the project of the day (this could range from oil painting to sketching) then I will get down to work. Usually I will paint for about 6-9 hours depending on how the project is going. If I get stuck I will set it aside and work on something else for a bit. After the sun goes down it becomes a little more difficult to work without the natural light, so unless I’m really into a painting or on a deadline I will usually stop drawing around this time.


What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
I wish my schooling had taught me a little more about the business end of things, marketing and taxes. I have always struggled with talking up my own artwork.

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Drawing! Being able to do what I love.

What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
The amount of my life that my passion consumes and how solitary drawing can be.


If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
There are a few other careers that have interested me along the way, when I was really young I thought I would like to be a vet or a zookeeper. Later on I briefly entertained the idea of being a pastry chef so I could create my art in a three dimensional edible form. I still love baking.

Any other tips you could share?
Before you consider a piece finished set it aside for a few days then look at it, this helps reevaluate the piece with fresh eyes.


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