The monotony of existence

Chosen for comfort as opposed to any pretense of an ensemble. Tracksuit bottoms and an old ragged t-shirt. Four walls, looming ominously like sentinels – guards that watch over the only resident within. The constant hum of a computer fan battles a droll of music to combine into white-noise that becomes a dull ache focused deep between the eyeballs. Shackled to a daily endeavour that has long lost any significance. Life has become a routine, time broken only by sleep. Sustenance, shower, sleep. What is it all for? Every day is the same…

Sometimes I loose track. Maybe this is my own life. Maybe it is a fabrication.

Sitting alone at my drawing board I find it difficult to articulate my feelings. Focusing on a blank canvas, I put pressure on myself to conceive something original to express my frustrations. At once I am both exhausted and inactive.

Naturally, I start to think of a character, endowing them with these emotions. Boredom, fear, lethargy. Soon a form starts to follow, with a personality beginning to develop. A creature of the night for which time has lost all meaning, the reference points long since removed by a prolonged sense of solitude.

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Exploring character Rigging

Set around a tree-dwelling community of squirrels, ‘Trouble Up Top’ is a concept idea I had for a children’s story some time ago. Based on a hierarchical structure (in both a literal distribution of real estate within the tree and also within the leadership organization of the gang) the story arch unfolds in a series of misfortunate events, set-up by subordinates and subsequently passed along the chain of command for a resolution. With our protagonist in a position of power as ‘the Boss’, the moral focus of the story is the responsibility of leadership as we see the hardship he endures to keep ‘the family’ functioning.

In the wise words of Uncle Ben (from Spider-Man, not the guy who makes the rice) – ‘…with great power. Comes great responsibility’

For some time, I endeavored to develop a solid draft for the story, but eventually the project found its way to the back burner – having been shelved in my thoughts by other pressing matters with the full intention of picking it up somewhere down the line. Rich with potential; the project still holds plenty of promise with the emerging of a visual aesthetic and the glimmer of a core idea that simply needs time to explore. Like digging into a vein of cookie within a tub of ice cream.

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Finding expression in the language of the line

Emerging from beneath my rock I decided to take a respite from my solitude and re-engage with the outside world. In no way was this to be in any physical sense for that would involve a clean shave and fresh underwear; this was purely going to be an exercise to participate with the online community by contributing to Friday Illustration.

A simple concept, Friday Illustration is a weekly art activity with no obligation and very little restrictions. The premise is simple, each week members of the community suggest a single word theme and the chosen proposal is used as an open brief for those who participate. This week the topic was ‘Stuffed‘ and there were already plenty of submissions early doors. People stuffed into boxes, strange taxidermy experiments, and (of course) characters who have over indulged.

This would be a chance for me to play with a casual brief and take the opportunity to work on a few things. In this blog post, I will discuss this project, and use it to demonstrate a key part of my aesthetic: the attention to line expression.

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Focused brief for specific clients

'Sustainable Design' editorial illustration

In what often feels like an over saturated market with feral illustrators stalking every corner, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and attain the attention of those who wield the power to commission your next project. With a growing population of aspiring freelancers, it has become more and more difficult to make contact with increasingly shy art buyers. Creative directors and art directors have plenty of other obligations to busy the day, so wading the flood of phone calls, emails and mailers may be quite an inconvenience. This means submission requirements can be strict while opportunities to sit down to discuss one’s work in person are becoming rarer.

For a fledgling freelancer, this can make it tough to catch a break. Without any pre-existing relationships within the industry, it can be onerous to secure that first project and begin to build a portfolio of commercial experience that demonstrates one’s talent in a realistic context. But even with the portfolio and experience behind you, self-promotion is key for a sustainable career.

Admittedly this sounds bleak and can be a kick in the morale for an isolated illustrator. With opportunities limited it means that every lead is of great value, and care should be made to maximize the chances of standing out from the crowd. In this blog entry, I will use a case study to discuss the importance of being specific when approaching a potential client and how to best demonstrate your value to increase the chances of securing a commission.

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