The other day we were sitting discussing the heating system for the new studio (we're aiming to make it as off-grid as possible, not an easy task) when a text popped in. 'Hi, in London. Just saw (insert Ad Campaign/Poster/Book Cover), did you do it?'
Now, often the answer to a query of this nature would be 'yes', but this time it wasn't.
A quick Google revealed both client and illustrator. Nice folio. Lovely job. Did I teach them? Seems familiar. Really nice work. I can see why they thought it was me. Yeah, I can definitely see why...hell, this is practically studied. In fact, if there was an Inkymole School of Illustration, this person had to have put in at least a couple of years graft. I was due for a run that afternoon and, feeling unsettled by the similarities in the work, I ran and ran and ran further than I have for months. It felt good.
See, there is no Inkymole School of Illustration. As I've had to tell a few curious emailers lately, my (current) style wasn't taught in a certain specialist class, nor did I do an extra course, and neither is there one you can enrol on now. Every time someone gives me a platform to pass on some of the wisdom I've gleaned from a few years doing this, I tell students the same thing: keep evolving. Keep moving. You absolutely, cannot, ever sit back and rest on your laurels - there's going to be a litter of pup illustrators yapping excitedly around your feet every twelve months, and good luck to 'em too, because we've all been one - and probably taught a few of them.
Illustrator X doesn't know how heavily they've referenced my work (or maybe they do), nor should they. They're just getting on with 'getting on with it'. When things like this come along it's a reminder that it's time to apply the same thinking as in my run - push a bit further even if the limbs ache a bit. Work it off. Evolve. And take the whole thing as a ginormous compliment. If I didn't...I'd be a grumpy old fool, and the illustration biz has absolutely no room for those.
'Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us'.
(oh, and this one was me).