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Last year when I worked as the Illustration dept. Studio Slave (sorry, Graduate Studio Assistant) at Edinburgh College of Art, a fair few of the students asked me about the finer details of working as an illustrator when you’re first breaking into the industry. I’m a bit addicted to talking shop and I love hearing other artists chat about projects (mmm… http://drawger.com), so I figured I’d share some of my experiences to give a feel of an illustrators regular working life (a phrase that feels slightly oxymoronic…) which might be interesting, especially if you’re new to the game. (‘Industry’ and ‘game’ chat aside, I do see illustration as much more than just a job!)


So! Here’s a job I got about a month ago from Midwives Magazine. It was published earlier this month: volume 15, issue 4 2012. The brief was to illustrate an article on childbirth myths from around the world, which requires a bit of sensitivity. I don’t think many readers would want to see literal interpretations (as fun and horrific as that may be to draw)… From getting the brief I had 6 days to send roughs and then 4 days to do the final.

They sent me a PDF of the double spread, which makes life a lot easier cause you can see exactly what you’re working with. They suggested thinking about old folk books, so I did a bit of research about paper play (I had in mind an old crafts book from childhood)

I preferred my second rough; the concept was that the storks (newborn reference) began as realistic to represent the factual, clinical knowledge of childbirth. They then morphed into origami storks to represent the stories and myths. These were then linked to all the areas mentioned in the article (definite update to my geographical knowledge there).

I sent both and my second rough was approved (huzzah!) For the final artwork I wanted to experiment a bit more with my 3D method of working, so this time I used dress making pins rather than foam board. I found it looked better than tape and chunks of foam (big surprise), and gave me much more control over the height of each individual element… but compromised the stability of structure (plus it’d be a bitch to frame). I love how the original looks, only I dropped it on the floor a few days later and of course it landed pin side down… (luckily this was AFTER I took photos)

So here is the final! The proportion and arrangement ended up being slightly different from my original rough but I was pretty pleased with how it worked within the double page spread. I love that in print you can see the pin heads in the artwork, despite it being a detail I’m sure most people don’t notice! But I’m glad I played around with that anyways.

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