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7 Key Insights for Aspiring Illustrators
Form a conversation with illustration legend Owen Davey
📝 These insights were distilled from a conversation I had with one of my illustration heroes, Owen Davey. If you know someone who might benefit from it, please share it!
1. Utilise opportunities to learn from the pros
Be proactive about seeking advice and learning from established professionals. For instance, Owen Davey and others host regular portfolio chats, aimed at fostering diversity in the industry. Take advantage of such initiatives for valuable insights.
Pro tip: Keep notifications on for their posts to not miss out on these opportunities.
2. Incorporate your personal interests into your work
Owen believes in bringing personal interests into client work.
Know what you like to draw and try to weave that into your assignments. This not only makes your work more enjoyable but also unique. For example, you might enjoy drawing fantasy settings, but your skills might be in demand for drawing business illustrations.
One way to be both pragmatic and passionate is to incorporate fantasy elements into the business illustrations.
3. Don't be too fixated on awards
While awards can help with exposure, they aren't everything. Owen mentioned the 3x3 and the World Illustration Awards as significant ones, but remember that these are subjective. They are nice to have but not as important as as say… Promoting your work actively.
4. Promote your work actively
Especially in the initial years, it's important to put your work out there.
Reach out to people who hire illustrators, introduce yourself, and showcase your work. Be strategic about what you draw and ensure it aligns with the demand in the market.
5. Diversify your skills
Owen believes it's beneficial for illustrators to diversify. You can make a good living in publication or editorial, but if you can do both, you can make a really good living.
6. Follow your curiosity and check your facts
When illustrating and authoring nonfiction books, cover the basics, follow your curiosity, and ensure your facts are checked from credible sources. Start with something like Wikipedia, there is a rabbit hole of links to go down, follow your curiosity, but remember to cover the basics and check your facts.
7. Remember, sometimes the best money comes from unexpected places
As Owen says, "I don’t love being a human paintbrush, but sometimes that’s where the best money is". Be flexible and open to different kinds of work.
Which insight did you find most useful? Which should you like further clarified or expanded on?