Thursday, August 04, 2011

How to be an illustrator and graphic designer

Thinking of starting out like an illustrator, graphic designer or something in that line?

I recieve many questions sent to me through emails via my website and blog´s in both swedish and english language. Allthough its fun to hear from people around the world, unfortunatly I dont have the time to answer all question directly in private emails. This is simply because I work a lot with my own illustrations and graphic design and other work related assignments.And running my own budiness really as you probably understand.

I do understand the importance of looking for proper information for anyone starting out as an illustrator, artist, graphic designer and all other related work in the field one have when freelancing, and starting once own business. I have been in the same situation myself.

I get questions where people like to be my assistant, which I always have to say no to. I simply dont have the time or possibility to offer such job. Regardless if it would be a payed or non-payed job.

Many people ask me “what to do and how to do it” when they dream about becoming- or are just starting out. Sometimes which schools to go to, or just anything. Therefore I try to write about this topic from time to time on my Swedish and English version language blog´s. But there are websites that go into this topic more deeply than I, such as, an excellent magazine by the way.

When it comes to being an illustrator, graphic designer and artist who like me also make print originals, vectorizing etcetera my suggestions are these:

  • Its always difficult to tell someone else which way is the best fit for them. We are all very diffirent in personalities and we dont necessarily like to do the same kind of things. If you lived in Sweden I would start by recomending certain schools specifically for graphic design, illustration and so forth. Therefore I would recomend you to start looking for such in your own country, community and so forth. And the website mentioned.
  • Personally I am self tought in illustration and graphic design, and it have worked for me. For others it wont work. Its very personal on which way that suits best, but schools are always a good start no doubt. But regardless if you would go to a school or no school, its always up to oneself to explore and learn, and to keep study along the way. Being self taught dont mean no studies. I would say I have studied both theoretically and practically a lot. More than many people at first tmay think, and at times more that those who goes to schools even. Its much due to my own interest but also because as a self taught you have to catch up things much quicker and search more by your own, and not being served by a tutour/teacher on which books to read and so forth.
  • I have been running my own freelancing business as an illustrator and graphic designer and artist since 1997. Regardless if you make it into a school or not, you dont have to feel inferior to anyone if you wouldnt make it to a school. Consistency and hard work togehter with an open mind, and having fun, will pay itself in the end. Some periods you make money and some you dont.
  • Try to look for inspiration. Both within the business and outside the business. Inspiration is all around us. In real life, books, movies, TV, Radio, talking to people, meeting people, the internet and so forth. Loook and you will find. Have an open heart and mind and try to have fun.
  • Take your work serious and try not to work for free or bad pay. There is one thing about coming into the business which can be hard enough, but to accept bad pay or work for free can be as bad. The client you make work for for bad pay, will 99% of the time never give proper pay in the future. They already know they got you for coffee money. Hence why you should look for associations and websites mentioned below
  • Keep contact with others with the same interest in your community, friends, town and country. Your own country as well as abroad. Have a open mind. Love cultures and culture from other countries and societies as well as your own. See to that you dont get narcissistic, but go broad minded. If you stick to much to your "own world", you will loose sight.
  • One great place of course is the internet where you can sit and look at others work from all over the world. And look at work from diffirent periods and centuries. Whats in fashion changes and sometimes comes back. You will evolve your own creativity this way.
  • See to that you know your tools. Both traditional media like paint, paper, pencils, crayons but also computer graphics media. I use CorelDRAW and Photo-Paint part of CorelDARW Graphics Suite for all my work basically. Others work with Adobe software like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. or Corel Painter. Whatever tools you use - learn them.
  • Many times you learn by doing. But see to that you learn properly. See to that you give your clients proper material. If you dont it can backfire and you will loose clients due to bad originals. You can be the best artist but if you deliver lousy work for print you will loose credibility - and you might not like to learn that it was because of yourself you lost that specific client.
  • Website to look for and get a lot of great inputs from are,,,,,,

  • Look for associations for illustrators and graphic designers in your own country. In Sweden we have and around europe there many associations like these. And the same in other countries, thats why is one suggested website, look in their member section

Stefan Lindblad
illustration, art, graphic design, print originals, layout, vectorizing and more

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