Sunday, June 27, 2010

The First Paid Gig.

Just found my first ever live commission after graduating, while organising some archived work samples for the new plan chest (when it comes). I'd had some paid work while at college, but this was the first where I was out on my own.

I got paid £200 for this A1 pastel pencil piece for Southend School For Boys who were celebrating their bicentenary. I drove down there in my custard yellow Citroen 2CV, took a brief (there was no email of course, this was 1993) and lots of photographs (which needed taking into Boots for developing) and went home to draw this over the next couple of weeks. I had to deliver the piece back the same way - on the motorway, with 602cc and a packet of B&H. I was good at driving one-handed. This time they had me down for lunch, and let me have some of the 200 prints they'd had made - all of which I had to sign.

If you look carefully, you can see that the image can be viewed any way up. They'd spotted my piece in Images 17, which was a delight. (Parental-sounding note to young 'uns: see, it IS worth entering the Images competitions!)

They were really pleased with it, and the original still hangs in the Great Hall in a frame (well, as far as I know). Model was boyfriend at the time - I just gave him three different hairdos and coloured his face a bit. I seem to remember he wasn't the most enthusiastic model, but then again, he wasn't the arty type...

Blimey. Foreshortening eh? Don't know if I could do it now!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's my business.

I like to get behind anyone who's actively promoting and supporting the illustration industry as a whole, so it goes without saying I'm a life-long member of the Association of Illustrators, whose new members are welcomed to the fold with a juicy package emblazoned with a message by Inkymole.

In addition, I try to keep up with the many Illustration sites around like Illustrationmundo, Spraygraphic and Illustration Friday, but I don't often get the pleasure of a simple leisurely browse (which is a good thing if you think about it!) These things are usually run by people who aren't being paid to do it, and do it for the love the trade they're in. Obviously, the existence of the web and the ease of blogging makes this a whole lot easier and cheaper than the days of the AOI's early printed-and-posted B&W newsletters.

This one's a new one and I thought I'd report on it, as it's nicely done (though I think a hand-written header might draw more people in), and has been voted one of HOW's Top 10 Best Sites for Designers. Their catchphrase is 'creativity, community, culture' - which sums it up nicely! Being part of it reminds me of three important things:

1) This is fast-growing industry for which there is no Trade Union, just a solid core of people working away at their trade and its issues, and

2) It is a harder-than-ever industry to work in, because although the web has made it easier and cheaper to promote from a technical point of view, there are... thousands and thousands of us, and we're competing on a global - no longer a local or country-wide - playing field. Which not only sharpens pencils, but focus, ability and professionalism too.

3) Humans LOVE pictures.

Which, for the ongoing longevity and prosperity of my trade, with me in it or long after the pencils have been put down, is A Very Good Thing.

Friday, June 04, 2010


When I'm stuck or unmotivated and I'm in the mood where I'll do anything except what I'm meant to be doing, two things break the stalemate: running, and baking. Thankfully the two are mutually beneficial (well you could run without the baking, but to just do the baking might have me in trouble after a few short sugary months) and there's nothing better than making them for other people.*

Since various craftsmen - builders, plumbers, sparkies, chippies, tilers, shotblasters, metalworkers and scaffolders - have been our extended family for four months, they've benefitted from my frequent oven sessions. You might expect an illustrator to put a great deal of effort into the appearance of her cakes, but prepare to be disappointed.

Not all were captured on film, but here's a round-up of my flour-and-marge endeavours. Disclaimer: not all of them are cakes.

*actually there is, and that is eating them all yourself.

Vanilla Fairy cakes in star-shaped silicone. Date unknown but most likely January.

Fruit loaf. 10.2.10.

A tin of peanut butter and chilli cakes. 3.3.10.

Hardcore Chocolate Sandwich: baked in an industrial-sized loaf tin, jam and buttercream filling. 11.5.10.

Baked especially for Mark and Mick the Builders. Vanilla Sponge with buttercream icing and obvious sprinkles. Two layers. 4.5.10.

Chocolate Bruiser. Two layers, damson jam and chocolate and carob cream. 10.4.10.

This is a haggis pie, 16.5.10. Pastry excuses: see below.

Mincemeat and Apple Tart, 25.5.10. Borrowed Mum's baking gear (and kitchen) because mine is all boxed up, which is the only reason why the pastry doesn't look like a boxing match in a pie shop.

Well they can't have it without tea, can they?


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