MACUSER ILLUSTRATOR INTERVIEW
INFOGRAPHICS: HOW I GOT STARTED
HOW/WHY YOU GOT INTO YOUR PARTICULAR LINE OF WORK
After doing a few general art and design courses from leaving school I was never one hundred percent sure where I wanted to end up. Being an architect or technical illustrator were on the cards but when I was studying at Newcastle College of Art Design a new course started up in “Newspaper Design & Information Graphics”. The course was set-up to bring more creative flair into the UK Newspapers. I was sold and worked hard to get onto this course. Infographics seemed right up my street being quite technical and working in a newsroom was very appealing.
After finishing the “Newspaper Design & Information Graphics” course I was lucky enough to get a part-time position at the “The Independent”newspaper graphics department. I only spent four months there and quickly moved to a full-time position at the “The Observer”. From there I moved to “BBC Sport Online” as I was keen to get into working on interactive graphics online. Eventually ending up at “Reuters News Graphics Service”. I worked on many large interactive flash projects on major sporting events (The Olympics and The World Cup) and produced daily news infographics for over 500+ media clients worldwide. I worked over eight years in London and learnt a lot from experienced artists. But after Reuters moved their graphics department to Singapore, it was an opportunity to go it alone and I set my business up under the the name “Acute Graphics” and moved to Cornwall.
Working solo has it’s ups and downs. I work in a studio just off the house (A converted garage). The major benefit to this is the time I get to see my family. I have two young children. If I worked the hours I did when I was in London I would only get to see them at weekends. Being in Cornwall is great as regularly in the summer I get the opportunity to hit the beach. I never dread Mondays getting back to work, I still enjoying doing infographics/illustrations thirteen years on.
The downs are I work on my own most of the time. This took a while to get used to after working in a bustling newsroom. It means that I struggle to get any proper holidays for a solid week or two, and if I do get any time off I find it hard not to think about work. Having the experience of working in a newsroom where there were tight time constraints has stood me in good stead as organising my work and working to deadlines are some of my strong points.
– A “BIG BREAK” THAT MADE YOU FEEL IT WAS WORKING OUT
It took me around two years before I built up enough clients to say I was working full time. What really got me going was getting regular monthly infographics work for Men’s Health Magazine. They were giving me three to five commissions each month and having my credit “AcuteGraphics.co.uk” in such a popular magazine also acted as advertising with me picking up quite a few jobs from other magazines. But after losing Men’s Health it was lesson to never get too reliant on a client as Art Directors and Editors move on. When new people come in, they want to implement their own style which could mean no more work for you.
– YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS ENTERING YOUR FIELD (PERHAPS ON HOW TO GET WORK OR GET NOTICED)
Marketing myself was something I have never had to do before. I always felt there was some magic way to get myself out there and get noticed but there isn’t. It takes time and costs money to advertise. I create printed flyers/brochures and send them direct to art directors and editors. I feel this is better than email advertising as when they open an envelope I can put quite a bit of my work right in their hand. It is very easy to click delete on an email promo. I also have my artwork on portfolio sites like “Contact”. There is plenty of them out there. I think it’s important to have a good professional website that showcases the type of work you do. I think potential clients are always going to click through from portfolio sites and want to see more about you
– THE TOOLS DO YOU USE – ESPECIALLY YOUR MAC(S) AND APPS
I currently work on a iMac 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and have it linked up to another monitor to give me a good sized work space. I’ve had this around seven years and it’s never let me down. I use Adobe Illustrator most of the time, but also Photoshop and Flash.
– WHAT INSPIRES YOU
Ever since college I was a big fan of John Grimwade, the graphics he produced for Condé Nast Traveler are a big inspiration – www.johngrimwade.com
Also really like these guys:
Vault49 – www.vault49.com