Getting into illustration: Interview with Ella

thank you ella! all artwork featured by Ella Robertson

An Introduction…

Hello! My name is Ella, I am a recent graduate from Kingston School of Art where I studied for 4 years; firstly, on the BA Illustration Animation course, then an additional year completing an MA in Communication Design – which I feel has been the biggest push to beginning my career as a freelance Illustrator and book arts designer.
I am currently my own boss, creating digital illustration and traditional prints for clients, along with creating my own sustainably designed hand-bound sketchbooks.

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

To remain a freelance designer and crafty lady! I am really lucky to have a job that will always bring me something new and diversify my skills – bear in mind, I am only a few months in.
I hope by 10 years from today, I will have better established my small business and I am still as content with my day to day as I am now!

What advice would you give to someone who would like to get into your field?

The creative industry is vast! I think there is a little space for everyone, the trouble is having the right experiences, meeting the right people, and making the right choices to get YOU to your ‘little space’.
The more you experience, the better you know your interests and skills. Success should come with time, so long as you keep at it. For me, the best lessons at Kingston were workshops that were not compulsory, an induction to a new equipment or process seems to spark creativity.

What would you say were your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Something I have gained on the MA which I might not have learnt otherwise, was that if you compare yourself to others and their work too much, you can’t really bring anything new to the table.

At the end of the day your worst critic will always be yourself. I found that with every critical comment I would feel bad about what I had made, however the next piece would always have that feedback in mind – The importance to take away is that bad comments don’t feel good to receive, but they help you grow the most, maybe because they stick harder.

How do you like to unwind?

I do tend to overwork myself; I can get very overwhelmed when there are many projects on the go and I really can’t stress how important it is to be able to turn off your brain and think about something that isn’t your current projects.
Personally, I think It’s okay to not want to draw sometimes. To unwind I tend to watch
documentaries on true crime, psychology, nature, science… I’m just a very curious person. I enjoy puzzles too; I’d love to design my own puzzle within the next 10 years! I find that problem solving or learning something new is a great way to destress from work but also keep the cogs turning.

Any other tips?

One thing I really wish they covered more at uni is the whole business and law side to freelance illustration. Understanding your worth as an artist and establishing terms for clients can be really daunting at first. Art in general is subjective – understanding that there is no pleasing everyone and
being ok with it, can be a journey for some people.

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