A Day in the Life of a Budding Illustrator

Cue the David Attenborough voice-over:

“Here we see the budding illustrator,

emerging from its slumber to find its way to the kettle.”

My day probably starts out much like anyone else’s - alarm goes off, proceed to kitchen, inject caffeine directly into bloodstream. Okay, so that may be an overstatement but you get the idea.

At the minute, at the start of my illustration career, it can be tough to get going in the morning. Getting into a routine has really helped me. Of course, it doesn’t always work out perfectly but on the days it does, where I’m up and working and being productive, it feels good. Even if that involves watching that video about design, reading that blog post, sketching out that idea, making that list; it all goes towards my development as a creative.

Being an active user of social media, I often see photos of illustrators in their beautiful, well-lit studios, beavering away on the latest project. The reality of my illustration day-to-day is me sat at my desk in my bedroom, drinking tea and staring at my computer screen. It’s not very glamorous.

Then there’s my constant companion – niggling doubt, otherwise known as impostor syndrome. Boy is it annoying. And often it’s made manifest in the people around me and the people I meet. When describing what I do for a living, I’m often met with blank stares or worse, ill-informed opinions - I’m charging too much, I’m not an expert, I should be thankful for just getting exposure.

I have to work at telling myself every day that I’m worth it. That the service I provide as an illustrator is of a high quality. That I have put time, effort and money into my profession. That means I have the right to charge what I believe is a suitable fee for my work (obviously I'm not here to rip a client off but I charge a fair rate), despite the fact that I'm a recent graduate. It also means I have to tell myself to stick at it no matter what. Eventually, something will come along, be it work or an opportunity, and it might be down to ‘right-place-right-time’ but that will be because I’ve stuck it out, stuck to my gut and stuck to my skill set.

One of the main parts of my day is proving to others that I’m worth it. But it’s also about proving it to myself.

So, how do I do that? I read, listen to and watch things about my profession, so that I can become more informed and develop as a creative. Here’s some things I’ve been looking at, maybe they’ll help you out too:

The Futur on YouTube

The Futur is an amazing design channel on YouTube, run by a host of creatives with years of experience. They have some really informative videos on how to start a business, how to talk to clients, how to brand yourself… the list goes on. They also have some great resources and courses on their website which are worth a look at too.

TED Talks

I love a TED Talk. If I could watch all the TED Talks available, I would but I think I’d spend my life doing just that. Obviously, there are some amazing ones related to design; I’ve recently watched some by designer Stefan Sagmeister who talks about the ‘Things I’ve learned in my life so far’ and how they have gone on to become projects, which, if I’m being truly honest, probably inspired my first blog post.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the TED Talk by Chip Kidd, 'Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.' Kidd is an excellent speaker and book designer who shares the art and philosophy behind some of his most famous covers. I’ve got a couple of books he’s written too and they’re amazing.

However, some of the best TED Talks I’ve watched have absolutely nothing to do with design. Your task for today - find one TED Talk on a topic that you know nothing about or have a small interest in and just watch it. You’ll learn something new every time.

Abstract: The Art of Design (Netflix Only)

As far as I’m aware Abstract is only available on Netflix, however, some kind person may have put it onto YouTube. You didn’t hear it from me… Each episode is about a different creative person and their profession, how they got to be where they are, what they’re doing now – the works. I basically marathoned them they’re so good, even the ones that I thought would be really boring and completely not my taste were extremely interesting.

Show Your Work! By Austin Kleon

I’m pretty late to the game on this one. Show Your Work! has been around for many years now and I’m only just getting around to reading it but it’s been really helpful in tackling some of the questions I’ve been facing recently. It is a frank, to the point guide about how to get your work out there and how to even excel at it. The short and sweet of it is to share what you know, not to get to up yourself and try and do something everyday. At least that’s as far as I’ve got for now. Not only does it talk about design, it talks about a whole host of professions that give it a well-rounded and well-informed feel, with some interesting points to think about.

It’s Nice That / Eye Magazine / Refinery29 / Buzzfeed / Girlboss / Dazed & Confused / i-D etc.

There’s a whole host of websites, creative and non-creative alike, that are constantly posting great content. Having a quick flick through a few of them can be really useful in keeping up to date with what is going on in the creative community and inspire new ideas. Find a blog/website you like and have a browse every now and again.

Thank you for once again reading my rambling rants. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or comment bellow! I hope you find some of the references above useful and that you try and ignore that niggling doubt a bit more.

#hintsandtips #socialmedia #work #design #university #illustration #advice #impostorsyndrome #references

Alice L Clark Illustration © 2020