What made you want to be an illustrator?
I was always interested in art way before I can remember. Drawing and sketching were a huge part of my childhood. Ed Emberley books were a staple in my household. I was lucky to have been in a school system that had art courses from Elementary all the way to High School. It allowed me to explore and focus on my dream to continue in the arts. In High School, I decided in grade 10 that I wanted to go to art school and I did everything I could to prepare myself. With the help of my art teacher at the time, I applied to NSCAD University and got in!
How many years have you been an illustrator?
I have been an illustrator for about 15 years now. My early days in this career were part-time. I often worked another job along with my freelancing. After I had children I decided to focus on raising my kids while being a full time illustrator. Needless to say, it is a delicate balance.
About how many hours do you work a week?
I put in about 50 to 55 hours a week. Because I work at home, I can be flexible about my schedule. I often break my day into sections. I work early in the morning, then take off some time after lunch, works some more in the afternoon, take some off after supper to hang with my children, a try to do small jobs late into the night before bed. Yes, I do often work o the weekend. I say the word 'work' lightly because due to the nature of this career it does not often feel like work. Illustrators are always on and creatively thinking and coming up with ideas. It's part of the creative habit!
What helped you and how did you come up with your own unique style?
What helped me develop my style was drawing every day. I focussed on words, narratives to come up with work early on. I experimented with many mediums till I found one that I loved to work with and that is gouache paint. Knowing what inspires me and what felt natural were huge helpers when it came to finding a style. Also, just experimenting with ideas and letting go of control and just creating was another way of letting my natural process develop.
What is a normal day like in your job?
A normal day for me is well orchestrated juggle of work, kids, business and social networking online-don't forget the coffee! After I get my kids off to school my day begins. I try to designate different days for different tasks which depend heavily on deadlines and other tasks that need to be done. Creative business is a huge part of any illustrators day that can involve social networking, promotion, emails, job searching, along with writing invoices, paperwork and the day to day creative projects. All this is mingled with the day to day activities that go on around you in your studio and your household. Again, it all becomes part of the daily creative habit.
What so you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy many parts of my career. For starters, I enjoy my independence. I enjoy the fact that I get to create images for a living. I love that I do not have an off switch when it comes to ideas and creativity. I love that it becomes part of my living as well as my household which makes it fun for my kids. As an illustrator I am doing something that is truly me! I feel that I contribute to the world one idea at a time. Being in this career means I'm never bored nor am I ever finished. There is always something to do, to create or explore. Being an illustrator comes with a well defined sense of purpose.
What is the most challenging part?
Finding steady work is challenging. Finding a balance when its is busy can be frustrating at times. Balancing business with my art can be challenging especially on the days when I wish I could just create. It can be isolating at times being that I work at home and live in that space too. It's important to have sense of community even if the area you live in does not provide that so having one online community often helps. The concept of doing it all yourself, although gratifying, can be tiring at times. Again, as illustrators we first want to create so paper work, looking for jobs and dealing with clients are not always something we want to do.
As I approach my high school years what could I be doing now to prepare for being an illustrator?
For starters, I would become well researched online. Read up on as much information as you can from books, articles, blogs and websites. Carry around an idea notebook and a sketchbook. Focus on drawing. Become aware of the purpose of illustration-what is and why it is needed. Research the history of illustration. Have a clear understanding that illustration is a process, it involves working with a client and and that this is a career and not a hobby.
Understand that this visual communication. It involves you visually creating an idea that will be used by a client or yourself such as promotion. Also, knowing how to communicate what you want in this industry by way of knowing how to negotiate, asking for what you want as well as knowing how to talk about yourself and your work will help you greatly.
Start building up a body of work. This can be accomplished my creating your own projects or themes that will help you create a portfolio. Lastly, look to see what others are doing in the industry. A good place to start is checking out illustration Friday (www.illustrationfriday.com). This site posts a weekly theme that you can illustrate. It is a good motivator and it helps you understand the importance of a positive, inspirational online community.