Back in October last year, I had a call from my agent saying that the design team at The Southbank Centre were interested in using me to illustrate a project they were working on. The project was ‘Imagine Festival 2012’.
‘Imagine’ is a annual children’s literary festival held in february half term, over 2 week there are loads of events and workshops with the aim being to encourage children to want to read more. The illustrators job would be to produce a cover and 13 additional double page spreads for the brochure that advertises the events. The main illustration would also be used for posters and advertisements across london to promote the festival.
I was really excited to land this job, but I was one of three illustrators they were considering for the job. I have been in this situation a few times before; I get my hopes up that I’m going to land a lucrative job and the exposure is going to be great, then my hopes are dashed at the last moment when they go with someone else. It happens, I have learned that it’s part of life as an illustrator.
However, this time it didn’t happen. I got the job, and it was honestly one of the most enjoyable illustration jobs I have worked on. Don’t get me wrong, It was a solid month of hard work but the outcome was rewarding and I learned a lot about the direction I would like my work to go in the future.
As well as this, I learned a great deal about the importance of good time management and when to take a break! Just before I landed this job I hadn’t had much work for a few months, so as it was approaching Christmas I thought it best to take on a day job…full time. Then, when starting the Southbank job, instead of dropping a few hours at my day job, I thought the best thing to do was to enter the winter months juggling 2 full time jobs. It turned to be quite exhausting, both mentally and physically. I was working 5 days a week at my day job, then working solidly through the evenings and weekends; I didn’t get more than 5 hours sleep a night, I wasn’t eating properly and I didn’t have a day off for over a month. Needless to say, I put unnecessary pressure on myself and on my relationship.
Quite naively I neglected to realise how challenging and exhausting illustration can be, especially when you have already worked a physical job for 8 hours that day. Lesson learned.
Enough of the downbeat stuff.
In the time I was working on this job, I came to the realisation that I would really like to do a lot more work like this. illustrating children’s picture books has always been an ambition of mine and although it was hard work, I had so much fun getting into the mindset of a child, (wasn’t that difficult to be honest) and just being playful with character design and colour palettes made it seem less like work.
While I love working an editorial brief and the challenges that come with them, creating this children’s imagery was a welcome break from all of that dry copy. A nice balance of the two would be perfect!
Below is some examples of the initial sketchs and their corresponding final images.