Learning the Ropes

It’s been a while since I updated my blog and I’ve just finished adding a couple of new pieces to my website so it’s time that I share a little progress on where I am with my freelance career, what I’ve learned so far, and what areas I’m hoping to grow next.

My last post from August was about finding my artistic voice and reading back on it I think I’ve made some discoveries about what that means. I think I’m honing my style and skillset in a way that does actually look fairly cohesive. So how do you find your artistic voice? I took some time to think about where I’d been, where I was and where I wanted to be. I listed what my favourite projects in the past had been, what aspects of my jobs I enjoyed most, and what resources I had to pull from. I then took a look at my current website and portfolio and wrote what I liked about it, what I didn’t like, where I wanted to improve etc. Then I took some time (quite a while) to think about where I wanted to be. I tried to imagine what my ideal dream projects would look like, I thought long and hard about what my values are, what kind of messages I want to be sharing and what kind of work I enjoy most. Not what kind of work I could force myself into - but what was it that I enjoyed doing most.

I came to the conclusion that I would wanted to focus on illustration. In all the things I dabble there is a common thread between all of them which was me trying to squeeze illustration into every single project. I realised that this doesn’t mean that I can’t do packaging or branding projects, but it means that I should choose to only take on those projects if I’m inspired by them and can do something fun and illustrative.

I also pin pointed that my strengths are as a nature illustrator and that I should bolster that to my advantage because I love drawing things from nature! Birds, animals, plants and landscapes make up the majority of my portfolio and whereas I would at one point have considered this a weakness - I certainly don’t think so anymore. The fact that people love nature is irrefutable as is demonstrated by the countless books written about it, tv programmes dedicated to it and art inspired by it so there is definitely a demand for quality illustration work about nature. After landing on my solid base as a nature illustrator and I curated my portfolio to best highlight that kind of work.

Once doing so I started to see what my style could possible look like. Much of my work was print making and I had drawn a couple things in a certain style that coordinates with my linocuts. I decided that from now on I would pursue those techniques, master them and develop them into my personal style.

Now the question remained of where I want to grow as an illustrator. I feel comfortable being a ‘nature illustrator’ but I also have to work with making this niche commercially viable and find work for myself. I’ve always enjoyed books and reading is a huge part of my life so it felt natural to concentrate my efforts on illustration for publishing. I realised that I needed to make some work that was geared towards book illustration and that is where my current efforts (outside of ongoing projects) are focused.

One of the ways I’ve been doing this is through a little passion project called Boffin Bookplates. I’ll write more about it in my next post but you can check it out by visiting boffinbookplates.com

Maybe it’s just the arrival of spring and a few drops of sunshine but I’m feeling pretty positive about this year. I think this blog is a good way of organising thoughts and tracking my progress so I’ll be writing in it every now and then. Have lots of things I’ve been working on and thinking about so I’m looking forward to sharing them!

In the meantime, here’s a drawing I did of a dapper fox which I really like.