How To Become A Freelance Illustrator | FREELANCE ILLUSTRATOR Q&A • How To Find Jobs, Your Style, Work From Home, …

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Susann Hoffmann

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FREELANCE ILLUSTRATOR Q&A • How To Find Jobs, Your Style, Work From Home, …

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[MUSIC] do [Music]. Hey, folks, so here. It is my first ever video. Where I’m trying to talk to you guys through the camera, which is super weird for me. I haven’t done this before and I hope you bear with me because English isn’t my first language. I probably have a very bad accent, but here. We are, I’m trying my best for those of you who don’t know me. My name is Susan. I’m a freelance illustrator from Hamburg, Germany and a few weeks ago. I asked you on my Instagram for questions for a Q a and here. I am with my cup of tea with my phone with my questions. Let’s dive right into it. The first question is how to get illustration jobs. How did you become a children’s book illustrator, first of all? I want to say I’m not the most successful illustrator. I’m not even working full-time as an illustrator. Yet I still have a part-time job as a designer, and it usually takes a few years to establish yourself as an illustrator. I think so don’t worry. If your career is not taking off super fast, it’s a marathon and not a sprint for most people, and I think today my most important tool to get new clients is Instagram, because I think most of them find me through there, but I also, during my studies went to book fairs where you get to know, publishers and can give them your portfolio and they might contact you weeks or months or even years after the fair if they have a suitable project for you. Also, you want to put your work out there on any platform you can. I mean, online like your website Instagram. What else is there, Facebook? Though Facebook is a bit dead, I think at least for me. I would suggest just putting it all out there. You know, the best stuff you’re doing. Just show it to the world because otherwise you will never. I mean, you won’t get noticed. You can also contact clients. You want to work with like magazines or publishers, but don’t expect a super high like commission rate because you usually have to contact like 50 people to get maybe one one job out of it, but you never know, really, it takes. It just takes time, so relax if it’s not working out and have a long breath, really, uh. What does your everyday work day? Look like. How do you get on with two jobs? I usually try to separate them from each other. I try to do my design work like the part-time job right after getting up so to speak like before lunch and, um, in the afternoon, I will do my freelance illustration jobs, and if I have time left, I do personal projects or work for Instagram. Mostly, it works fine and having a part-time job gives me the freedom to say no to underpaid illustration gigs. And, of course, gives me a lot of financial security. Do you ever need to discipline yourself to get to work? Certainly, um, as much fun as being an illustrator can be not every project. Is your dream come true? I think I never did a project that I really didn’t like, but still you. You don’t always feel like drawing. Maybe sometimes you you just have to sit down at your desk and just do your job. What motivates me is mostly clients because their reactions to when you send your sketches or your illustrations, they are so happy so that really motivates me to keep going in to make my clients happy. Do you need strong guidelines or do you prefer free work? I think I actually prefer some guidelines. If I get a more detailed brief, I know what the client is expecting. I know what he wants to see. It helps me narrow down the amount of sketches. I don’t have to branch out completely. It really helps me to to have more guidelines. I think. How do you divide your time now? We are all confined at home. I have to say my everyday. Life didn’t change. I don’t want to say it all, but it didn’t change a lot during Colgate because I work from home all the time even before covet and honestly, not, a lot has changed. I’m not the most sociable person. I do meet my friends from time to time, but we just I think I think I even had a more active social life during covet than before, because because a lot of friends started having like online like Skype and zoom dates. And then my calendar was totally full all of a sudden. I wasn’t used to that, so I think for the first weeks of the quarantine. I I lived pretty much. My old life just put a bit more social evenings. I think less less Netflix, more zoom dates. Can you show us your creative process? When working with children’s books from the moment, you receive the briefing and all the steps until the project is published. How much are you involved in those final steps until they are published? Um, that’s not really a question I. I want to maybe talk so openly about on Youtube. Yet I am thinking of making a patreon account for those things so that we could have a little community of like-minded people who want to know more insights about illustration. Work and yeah. I think it would be a nice way to to exchange experiences, But I’m not sure about it yet. A lot of people I think don’t like patreon and I get it. Yeah, let me know what you think about it in the comments below. Wow, I feel like the real youtuber now. How long after your degree did it Take you to get jobs? Was there a smooth transition? Actually, it was the other way around. I sort of dragged my studies until I was sort of keeping me afloat with illustration jobs. Yeah, it’s an advantage of studying in Germany because we don’t have high tuition fees and I could just stay a student for a long time until I had a sort of steady income with illustration or from administration. Yeah, how long did it take you to get where you are now? It’s not that easy to say, actually because there wasn’t this one point where I started. I think I actually actively tried to get illustration jobs in 2017 or 2018 So I would say about two to three years from trying to make it to where I am now, and I haven’t made it yet. Keep that in mind. Uh, do you have an agent? What do you think of having an agent? I do not have an agent and I’m actually not looking for one either. I think it can help, but you really need to have a good agent. I think with whom you get along. I don’t have that much experience. Then I can’t really say a lot about it, but I’m not looking for an agent. What’s a good 10-step plan for someone looking to get started working from home ASAP? Well, that’s a very detailed question like a 10 step plan. Uh, maybe start by having a good work environment having a good like desk and chair because I certainly don’t have a good chair. I have super bad back pains because I want a pretty chair and not a comfortable one, so that’s stupid. Don’t be like me, then maybe make sure you you separate your work from your private life by, for example, telling your family and your friends, and maybe your partner that you’re actually working, You’re at home, but you’re working, and I think I mean you sent me those questions in March. I think by now probably all of you have figured out how to work from home. I I’m not really the expert. Some questions concerning tools, which brushes do you use in procreate? There are a few brushes that I really like a few of them. Come with procreate. Those are the 6b pencil for sketching and the bonobo bonobo chalk for a bit of shading or texture. And then I bought the mid-century brush pack by Lisa Bardot a few years ago, and I really like it. It has some textured brushes, which I use for the outlines of the shapes I draw and it has the this one called the speckle brush, which is probably the one you are asking about because it gives my work this texture like these little dots. Yeah, I can really recommend her brushes. Do you use your ipad for book illustrations or do you use something more professional like a cintiq? And if you don’t know what a cintiq is, it’s this Wacom tablet that has like it shows you your your screen actually like an ipad, but like you can work in Photoshop and illustrator with it which you can also do with your ipad. Uh, anyway, I think at this point. The ipad is so good that I would consider it a professional tool. Uh yes. I actually do all my illustrations now. In in procreate, I have to assemble the final illustrations in Photoshop because procreate only allows so many layers, and I usually have to set up one illustration across several documents. Because, yeah, I work in such dimensions that I can have maybe 30 layers, and then I have one document for like character, a one document for character B. It’s it’s it’s not a really clever workflow, but drawing and procreate is so much faster for me than drawing in Photoshop that I should prefer it over directly drawing in Photoshop, so I import all those different files to my computer and like assemble the final illustrations in Photoshop. What medium would you recommend for non-digital traditional coloring? What paper works best with which I’m not an expert on a non-digital drawing? If you know me or if you know my account, you know im. I love posca markers. They are acrylic markers that are very opaque and you can layer like you can layer beige on top of black and it’ll. Cover it, it’s! I love them so they are definitely my favorite non-digital tool, and I recommend a paper with a smooth surface, that’s. Maybe a bit heavier. I use The paper called Mos Taiki by a brand, a German brand called hanamule and for me. It works pretty well. It doesn’t tear like some people experience. What computers tablets do you use? And which would you say are the best for illustrating again? I use the ipad it’s. Um, the 10.9 yes. 10.9 inch ipad pro from 2018 I use it for all my illustrations and for me, It’s the best I mean it. It feels like drawing on paper, really. The the apple pencil is so good. Procreate is so intuitive. I love it! I can really recommend it. If you want to get started with digital work. What illustration app Should I learn to use? Um, again. I really like procreate. It’s very intuitive and easy to learn, but you might want to learn programs such as Adobe Photoshop to. Oh, that was anti-climatic because you will have to convert the your final illustrations to a certain color profile that your publisher needs or your client needs. I’d say you can’t send off the files that you have like the procreate files. I still need to do a lot of adjusting in Photoshop, so I’d say learn a drawing a drawing app like Prograde, for example, and a program like Photoshop. Now I have some general art questions. What tips would you recommend for creating a color palette? How do you pick one? I used to be so bad with colors. Actually, I always threw around way too many colors until I discovered the posca markers because for me, it was a really great way of limiting my color palette. I only choose like three to maybe five colors that I really like, like. Would that work well together and a general tip for creating a color palette would be to always choose one brighter color and one darker color and then choosing colors that go well with them another question that was asked. I think several times was. How and when did you find your illustration style? I think the question about the illustration style is a question that a lot of people are struggling with because they desperately want to find their style. But you can’t do it overnight and honestly. I think it never stops. You always keep on evolving. I don’t think my work looks exactly the same as it did. Two years ago and the question with styles is really complicated. One or maybe it’s not, I think the more you just draw and practice, especially if you draw from life where you’re not influenced by how other people draw. It’s really a good way to to find your your own voice. Um, if you draw something over and over again, you you notice that you have a certain approach to to how you draw it and I think a lot of it has to do with experimentation. Just try out a lot of tools that you like. Try out! How other people do things? Um, yeah, but just try out a lot experiment. Have fun and don’t worry too much. It will come naturally. I promise you if you just. If you practice a lot, it will come naturally, I myself. If I’m being totally honest, uh, a few years ago, I really liked the style of another illustrator, and I noticed after some time that I was starting to copy her like I was trying to draw like her and I stopped. I was like, oh, no, that’s that’s that’s terrible and it wasn’t. It didn’t feel like me. You know, I always. I wanted my work to look like hers, but it doesn’t work. You can’t force it. I couldn’t draw one piece without comparing it to like how she did it. Nowadays I just I can just draw because it’s my own voice. It’s it’s how I draw. I have the feeling that this the way I draw is just how it like flows out out of me. The downside to that is that there are other styles by other artists who I much prefer to how I’m drawing like, like a lot of texture and like traditional media and stuff like that, but it’s not my way of working at least not not right now, and it took me a while to to deal with it and it, sometimes it bothers me that sometimes it lacks texture and like this handmade feel, but it is what it is, and it comes easy to me, and that is important. I don’t want to be forcing myself into something im. Not, how do you space everything so perfectly on your spread without a sketch? Oh, thank you so much I. I just make them fit. I don’t I don’t have an image of the final spread in my head. I just start somewhere. Draw something like a fox. It’s usually a fox, you know, and they just just make the rest fit and it looks super wonky at times. If you look closely and the foxes take poses, they would never take in real life. I just squeeze them in there. They like it or not. I think we’re about done. No, there’s a few more. There’s one asking about the illustration master at my university if I can recommend it and how I applied well. The application was pretty easy because I was already a bachelor student there so it was pretty informal. I’d say I just gave them like my portfolio with all the work I had recently done as to how if it was worth it. It’s not like or with studies in general or art studies. It’s not like you, you learn or you necessarily learn a lot like, like skill, wise or tools wise we do have or we. We didn’t have drawing classes and painting classes, But it’s not like I learned how to draw on a cintiq or something or I did. Learn a bit of Photoshop in design, but you mostly. [MUSIC] Mostly have like illustration projects like they give you something like a brief that you would also be able to get from a client and then you take it from there and you develop a illustration project that you like and that your professors like and the best thing. I took out of the studio. Let’s do the studio out of the studies was the network I think was getting to know so many people so many other illustrators whom I’m still connected and that’s actually the best part, also just finding your voice, and if you have these feed backgrounds with so many other illustrators, you get so much good input. I think that’s definitely the best of studies, so yeah. The master is definitely worth it because it, but it for me. It was a special case because I didn’t study illustration in the bachelors. I studied communication, design or graphic design. So for me, the master was my chance to finally study illustration for real, so that’s. What I did and I’m I’m glad that I did. It was a good great four years. Have you studied illustration? I should have started with that. Yeah, as I said, first graphic design, then illustration. How much time does it generally take you to draft out an idea before going into the final version? I don’t know if I can say that, like, generally, it always takes way longer than I think at least. Um, I don’t know for a sketch. Depending on how complex the illustration is going to be. I need maybe between one and two hours. I want to see what’s the question draft. An idea. Then I gave it back to the client. They have some feedback. I mean, I do a really rough sketch at the beginning. I send it out to the client. They give me some feedback. I make a more refined sketch. They give me some feedback. I make, um, way too fine sketch, because I don’t have line art in the end, but I I like having a really clean sketch in the end, and that one I color and send back to the client. And then I then I start the finished work. I can’t really say how long it takes with all the revisions. Maybe one two four hours and I I should really do. I should really track the time I take for things. Uh, I have one question concerning Instagram. How to build a following. I get asked that quite a lot. I don’t have a general answer. We all know our relationship with the algorithm is difficult. Um, it’s hard to to predict. What kind of posts will be successful If they will be seen at all by your followers? The one tip I can only give is drawing videos because that’s. What really took, um? How do you say? Oh, this is cool outside what’s so cute? Uh, Instagram, drawing videos, right, Drawing videos. Whoa, we’re the thing that worked for me. They gained a lot of like attention and brought a lot of people to my profile. I still do so. If I have one advice? Its post drawing videos. Then there’s the last question. It’s the personal one it’s. What books do you read If you’re interested in that? Actually, I have a few posts lately. I have started doing them this year about the books that I read the last books I read. Were I know where the caged word sings by Maya Angelou, which actually a follower of mine? I don’t know, I don’t remember who I’m sorry. I recommend it to me under one of my latest book posts. So thank you for that. I really loved it. And I read Americana by Chimamanda and Gosiati, which was so good. It really left me with a nice feeling in the end. If you want to know more, there’s these book posts that I do thank you for asking so this, is it? I hope I wasn’t boring or didn’t. Come off, this weird. It’s still soup. I’m not used to doing this. I will not become a youtuber. I tell you! I hope it was helpful and interesting and not too long and I don’t know, maybe there’s there will be another video on some special topics. If you if there’s anything that you want to know that I haven’t talked about feel free to leave your questions in the comments. Let me know what you think about that Patreon idea. If it’s something you’d be interested in like some more insights into what I do, I’d be happy to know what you would like to see in the future, so I hope you’re having a wonderful week all weekend, but I actually don’t know when I will be able to post This. Have a great day anyway. I should stop talking now. Bye you!