Ok, here is part 2 of my little series on Good Advice for Illustrators (that I wished I’d followed sooner). Disclaimer - it's advice, you don't have to take it but it helped me and so I'm sharing it.
Get out there and meet people
This tip starts with me introducing you to Kerry Lemon. I find Kerry's work increadibly inspiring, she seems fearless. No job is too big.
Kerry is a creative powerhouse. She’s fun, full of energy, positive and does amazing projects on a scale that would terrify most of us. I first saw her speak at a Yoillo event, and I would consider her a good friend now. When asked how she gets to work on such exciting projects she said - I think about what I'd like to do, then work out who will pay me to do it, then I reach out and say hello. Send them something nice, follow it up and try to get a meeting.
Her advice was to get out there and meet people, wherever possible get in front of them, face to face. You never know where it will lead, or who else they know.
My notes that Yoillo talk:
Now, I would never have met Kerry, or my agent, or any of the lovely supportive illustration community if I stayed at home, so I have to agree with this advice.
For a while I felt I could do it all alone, or online, I'd studied Illustration, I had a masters and read all the books... and if I went to events I’d stand in the background and watch. However, when I started going with an open mind, thinking “I wonder who I’ll meet”, I started to chat to people more and things started to happen.
Just some of the things I’ve been to: Yoillo talks, Offset London, Guardian masterclass, SCBWI-BI conference, Nosy Crow Illustrators’ Salon, Cambridge school of art summer school and conference, AOI events, Glug, local sketch book meetups, Petcha Kutcha, book signings and launches… and more.
Each time I’ve almost chickened out. It would definitely be easier not to go, but every time I do go I’ve been glad I did. The trick is to realise people are at these events because they're interested in the same thing as you, you are there to see the same thing.
It was at the most recent SCBWI-BI conference that my agent saw my work - If I hadn’t gone and left my portfolio on display I would have missed that opportunity. I only knew about SCBWI's conferences because I met a picture book writer at Nosy Crow's Axel Scheffler talk and she said they were awesome.
So, all I can say is go to events, whether it’s a book launch, a social meetup or a conference is up to you. Talk to people, find out what they do, tell them what you do and more importantly what you’d like to do. Be nice, be friendly. Who knows where it will lead. Plus if you see me there, say hi, I'll definitely be pleased to meet you and you won't be on your own.