In case you haven’t heard of Sue Gent, we urge you to stop reading for a second and check out her wonderful illustrations. Aside from working for the likes of Quarto publishing, Waitrose, SAGA and BBC History, she also leads the running of AOI Member meet-ups locally in Exeter (kicking off today with a Drink & Draw!). If you are based there don’t miss the chance to say hello to her.
Sue shares a bit about her background and some great insight into what else you can do to sustain your Illustration career.
Before becoming an illustrator, I was a magazine Art Editor. That’s sort of how I got into illustration, really – After years of enviously commissioning other illustrators, I finally had the confidence to go for it myself, and of course I’ve never looked back. But as someone who’s worked on both sides of the fence, here’s a handy tip:
Magazines’ illustration budgets aren’t always great these days. I know they should be, and so do most of the Art Editors who work on them – the good ones would much prefer to invest more in illustrators because they understand the value of what we do. However, if budgets are tight, I’ve found that Art Editors are often more than happy for me to sell posters and cards of illustrations they’ve commissioned. I always ask politely, and they usually request that I wait for a while after the issue has gone to print, but many agree to it – it doesn’t affect their budget and it provides me with extra income.
Of course, I don’t start an illustration with this in mind – The client brief is always the most important thing. But if I end up with a image that’s also saleable to a wider audience, it creates a handy sideline income. For example, an illustration I did for a magazine years ago has since made me far more money as a print than the original commission.
An added bonus is that it’s encouraged me to start selling my prints at art fairs, which in turn has been great for my confidence. Talking about my work a dozen times a day to different people definitely helps me analyse and stand by my stylistic decisions, and gives context to what makes me tick as an illustrator. And of course, getting away from the studio and meeting people is always good for what can often be a solitary profession.
See more of Sue Gent’s work on her Website and Instagram.
The first AOI Exeter Meet Up kicks off tonight at 7:30pm. If you got some free time, join in for a drink and a doodle!