I’m 34 and live by the beach in West Wales where I work from my studio at home. I’ve been illustrating full time for nearly 4 yrs now. The path I took before finally taking the plunge into self employment as a full time Illustrator was pretty varied. After graduating I didn’t feel at all ready to enter the professional world of illustration and had my sights set on a bit of travelling…a year and half later I came home and started working as a learning support assistant at an Art College. That led me on to doing a PGCE and from there I went on to teach Art at a secondary school for 4 years. It wasn’t until this point that I actually felt ready to bite the bullet and do what I always really knew I wanted to be doing.
When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
I guess I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, even as a small child, but didn’t really know what that would be. Although the path I took to get here was pretty long and even after graduating I wasn’t really thinking of it as a serious career option, I think I always knew that I’d do it eventually when the time was right.
Would you recommend studying at art school?
If you choose a good course, yes absolutely.
How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
I’m now in my fourth year of self employment as a freelance Illustrator and this is pretty much the first year that I haven’t done a few other things to tide me over in between illustration jobs.
Could you describe your typical day?
I pretty much spend everyday in my studio at home. Sorting out emails is usually the first job that gets done and then I just crack on with whatever projects I have on at the time. It often happens that I’m working on a couple of different things at the same time so my days are always varied and never boring.
What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Doing something I absolutely love and being my own boss.
What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
Irregular income, you need to be good with money!
If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
Probably something to do with animals, I am slightly obsessed!
Any other tips you could share?
Try to get some good work experience if possible. The AOI (Association of Illustrators) have been a great help to me since I went freelance offering advice on pricing contracts etc, all the scary stuff! If you’re taking the plunge into freelance illustration they really can offer a lot of support and some very sound advice.