Sunday, 28 June 2009

Gillian Blease

After Education how did you go about starting your career?
Well I studied Fine Art so when I began illustrating I started from scratch.  I cut out comment pieces from newspapers and magazines and illustrated them until I gained confidence with a style. Initially I sent out home made postcards featuring a few examples of my illustrations and followed many of these up with phone calls to arrange a visit or dropped off my portfolio. I did this regularly for the first few years until I was established. It cost me very little. Now I get postcards printed and have a good quality portfolio, but it’s not necessary when you’re starting out. Lots of illustrators produce their own mailing material.
 You seem to have your own style and technique of working, has this always been the case? If not when did you initiate your style of illustration? 
At first I was split between different ways of working. I decided to make a choice and follow one route to start off with which was  the flat simple graphics I still do. In recent years this has developed and I now incorporate pattern and texture. In terms of content I work with metaphors a lot and this has really influenced my style – I often use found images in my newspaper work so these pieces are a blend of found and drawn.
 Is there any artists or illustrators you are particularly interested or influenced by? Who is you favorite?

Paul Rand, Hans Schleger, Abram Games. These were some of the first designers I came across when I started illustrating and they really resonated with me and helped direct my style. Other influences are the artists from my fine art days: Julian Opie, Claes Oldenberg, Andy Wharhol, Peter Doig, Terry Frost. They all combine interesting concepts with great design and composition. They have a real simplicity and richness at the same time along with being quite witty or clever.

What other influences do you have, cultural or social?

I look at work from all sorts of sources as much as a I can, especially folk art, textiles, graphic design (and logos), advertising, childrens illustration and lots of vintage images – posters and books. I’m also very interested in Japanese culture, traditional and modern. I love signage of all kinds, especially roundabout signs on roads!

And finally Do you have any advice to give to me for when I graduate?
Make your work visible – whether by marketing or by having work in very visible arenas. It’s really necessary to keep reminding people that you’re out there working by doing mailshots and keeping in touch with those you’ve worked for before.  Try to get yourself in artbooks and exhibitions. Also, professionalism. It’s important to deliver work on time, be prepared to take criticism and make changes if necessary. Read up about pricing and have an idea of fees, although many will have a budget or offer a flat fee. Make sure you approach people who feature your kind of work in their magazines. Do your research – find out names of the right people to send images to at the right companies. A direct approach will be much more successful. And join the Association of Illustrators. They give invaluable advice on portfolios, pricing, invoicing etc.

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