Read time: Five mins
Hey there, fellow business owners, art enthusiasts and aspiring illustrators!
Are you ready to dive into the vibrant realm of illustration and freelancing? Keen to know how I got started?
I’m often contacted by illustration and design students keen to learn more about my insights and experiences as a freelance illustrator. So I thought I’d use my latest student interview for inspiration in this month’s blog post.
We cover everything from mastering the art of illustration to thriving as a freelancer and staying ahead in this ever-evolving industry. So grab your sketchbook and your favourite cup of inspiration, because we’re about to embark on an exciting journey into the world of creativity and imagination!
Can you provide a glimpse into the key roles and responsibilities that come with being an illustrator? What are the most fulfilling aspects of your work?
As a freelance illustrator, my responsibilities stretch far beyond simply putting pen to paper (or stylus to tablet). From brainstorming concepts to managing tight deadlines, from sketching initial ideas to crafting intricate digital artworks, my role is a medley of creative endeavours and small business management.
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing my artwork on products and seeing businesses I work with grow – that’s what makes all the hard work truly rewarding.
How did you end up becoming an illustrator? Tell me about your journey into this awesome creative career!
I did a Bachelor of Visual Art in Fine Art, at Griffith University straight out of high school, majoring in Illustration. I graduated uni in 2000, so it feels like a looooong time ago!
My creative curiosity led me to explore Graphic Design, so I ended up spending many years working in the printing industry, all the while making sure I didn’t lose touch with my love for drawing in my spare moments.
In 2013 I became a single parent – with 2 small children, a brand new mortgage and a part time job working prepress. Juggling a full time job with parenting duties, felt way too hard, so I decided to start a design/illustrations side hustle in 2014.
This is when I finally jumped into the illustration game professionally with my freelance gig, “Little Black Kat Creative.” It all began with crafting personalised portraits on Etsy, and things just started from there, making my creative journey really take off.
Drawing became my happy place AND a fun way to earn the $$$. I side hustled for 6 long years before taking Little Black Kat Creative full time in the grand old year of 2020.
What kind of projects do you usually work on? Give me the scoop on a recent project you worked on?
I work on all sorts of projects. Sometimes, I do illustrations for businesses looking to spice up their branding or add some flair to their marketing materials. Other times, I whip up illustrations for companies wanting to artwork up their physical products.
One of the coolest jobs I did this year involved putting together a bunch of visual aid cards for kids. For that job, I created around 500 basic complexity illustrations.
Any unexpected things you’ve discovered on your illustrator adventure? Spill the beans on the surprises!
It would have to be the unexpected bursts of inspiration. Surprisingly, my best ideas often strike when I’m away from my desk – during holidays or moments of relaxation. It’s a reminder that creativity knows no boundaries.
Freelancing surely has its ups and downs. Can you share some of the tough stuff you’ve faced? And let’s not forget the perks – what makes freelancing rock?
Freelancing brings both challenges and joys to the table. Dealing with inconsistent income and finding it hard to switch off from work can be tough. But on the flip side, the freedom and flexibility to tailor my work around the needs of my family are invaluable benefits that make the journey truly fulfilling.
Tech is always changing – what software and gadgets are your go-tos for illustration? And how do you stay in the loop with all the cool trends?
Staying on the cutting edge of illustration means embracing evolving technology. My toolkit includes a creative cloud subscription, which gives me access to the latest software releases. I also rely on a combination of devices – MacBook, iMac, and iPad, all complemented by the magic of the Apple Pencil. Staying in tune with trends involves a healthy dose of social media, business networking with other creatives and active participation in graphic design and illustration communities.
What’s buzzing in the illustration world right now? Any trends or exciting happenings we should know about?
Illustration trends are definitely driven by digital tools and software. What’s even more exciting is the growing emphasis on diversity and inclusivity in illustrations. The industry is witnessing a rising demand for authentic representation of various cultures, genders, body types, and backgrounds – a trend that’s truly heartening.
Could you chat a bit about the skills you’ve picked up while rocking this job? Also, what should budding illustrators focus on to stay on top of their game?
My skill set is constantly evolving. Each year, I find myself refining my drawing skills, elevating my concept development and storytelling abilities, and nailing new colour combinations.
I’m addicted to watching skillshare classes and I seem to sign up to a new online course each year. I’ve taken courses like Designer Biz Bootcamp, Be the Boss of WordPress and a Surface Pattern Design course with Cass Deller.
And the secret to growth? Regular practice and constant learning. A unique style is also essential, but adaptability is equally crucial to cater to diverse projects and clients.
We all need that extra kick of motivation. What keeps your creative fire burning? Any secret sources of inspiration you rely on?
For me, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is the fuel that keeps my creative fire burning. Having a dedicated, well-lit workspace is essential, and so is the ability to switch gears when creative blocks hit.
If I’m having a creative block, I’ll move onto another job and come back to it later, or I’ll get out of the house and take the dogs for a walk.
Getting out there and living life is a great source of inspiration. I really love hanging out with my family in my spare time. We’re all about going on new adventures, whether it’s a weekend drive in the country or a chill day at the beach. Nature is our playground, and we just love soaking it all in.
Discovering fresh trends and broadening creativity is a blast. Any online spots – like platforms, marketplaces, or social media hangouts – that you find super helpful for this?
Definitely Instagram. Lots of illustrators, designers, and artists share their work, processes, and insights on this platform. You can follow hashtags related to illustration and art to discover new trends and styles.
Then there’s Pinterest. It’s a goldmine for finding inspiration, colour palettes, and design ideas.
Skillshare is also a great tool to help you stay updated with new techniques and tools while refining your skills.
And there you have it – a glimpse into the life of a freelance illustrator, straight from the horse’s mouth.
Whether you’re starting with a blank canvas or adding finishing touches, remember that your journey is uniquely yours. Blend technology with your artistic spirit, and let your imagination dance across the canvas of creativity. The future of illustration holds endless possibilities, and you’re the brush-wielding architect of it all!
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