Interview Format: This section aims to bring you interviews from artists/designers/illustrators who have influenced and inspired me along the way, hopefully they will inspire you too, whilst getting an insight into what makes them tick and how they work and create.
The following interview differs from the previous format of questions as it came from a conversation which started as a question to Mr Bingo on Twitter, he swiftly replied and couldn’t have been more helpful, in fact he bent over backwards to answer my question and I’m sure you will agree he comes across as a really nice fella. The answer was so insightful that I asked him if it would be possible to publish the transcript of the conversation as an interview to share with other illustrators and to spark a discussion on what individuals have found works best for them to keep a roof over there heads through the art of making images!
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@Mr_Bingo Q. As a working Illustrator what would you say the best way to get work commissioned is? (besides the obvious time/hardwork/passion)
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@framedink Make sure the people who you think should be commissioning you see your work.
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@Mr_Bingo Cheers Mr Bingo, I see what your saying! i.e. If your into Skateboarding make sure you contact Lodown Mag! Any agency advice?
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@framedink 140 characters isn’t enough for this conversation. email me at email@example.com and I’ll do my best to answer!
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@Mr_Bingo Thanks, thought I was stretching it a bit!
E-mail One | Framedink Question:
Yeah sorry about that, it is really hard to sum up the whole process in a sentence!
I see that you have had quite a few recognisable/commercial clients, whilst still managing to do a fair amount of personal work too and deservedly so as I love your style! So I was just wondering what your approach has been and which approach has worked the best?
I recently spoke to a friend who works in BBH as an art director who told me that the Art Buyers or Head of Art route may be the avenue to go down?
Do you find sending samples of your work via email works?
Do you have an agent?
I know I’m firing a lot of questions at you, but as you know getting those first clients that may give you enough exposure to (maybe) pay the bills is the hardest part of doing something you love for a career!
Thanks in advance and thanks for offering to answer my questions,
E-mail Two | Mr Bingo Answer:
It’s a shame you’re in Liverpool otherwise I would have said go for a quick pint and a chat. (I’m in London).
Cheers for the kind words about my work, always nice to hear that people like what I’m doing.
Marketing yourself is a tough one for me to answer because technology has changed so much since I started, I’ve kind of changed with it.
The old way of getting work as an illustrator would be to have a proper portfolio and go round to all the art directors/buyers and meet them face to face, or at least send it to them to look at in their own time.
I graduated in 2001, just as it was becoming a lot easier to market yourself online so I guess I’ve got away with doing most of my self promotion online.
In saying that though, I definitely sent stuff out to people to begin with.
I think there’s a lot to be said for sending people physical things, rather than emails.
These people will probably get so many emails from illustrators and agents that you really need to stand out.
I didn’t turn it into a serious career for about 2.5 years after coming out of university.
So it took a few years for people to commission me enough to live off.
I don’t have an agent.
I love controlling everything myself.
But… if you’re finding it hard to get work then it’s definitely a good thing to try.
This book has a good section on the pros and cons of having an agent – The Fundamentals of Illustration.
Another thing I’d say is work out where your work fits in and who might commission it and then make sure that they see it.
You can find details for art directors for magazines in the magazines themselves.
Then call them and get the contact details. This is where you need a bit of confidence.
Your mate is right, yes, for advertising work, you want the art buyers.
Le Book is also a useful resource for peoples contact details.
It’s really hard to look back at the last 10 years and work out how stuffs happened for me.
I put a lot of my personality into my work and I think people like that and get it, which is maybe one of the reasons I do alright.
I guess what I’m saying is it’s really important to be yourself as people really respect honesty.
Jesus, I’m not sure if this a lesson in business or life now… I’m just waffling on and talking about myself…
Cheers and good luck!
E-mail Three | Framedink Reply:
Cheers chief! That is a great set of advice and thanks for taking the time out to reply in such detail.
You know what…I don’t know whether it is the fact that illustrators work in isolation or if it is the passion for what they do – but I have never come across an illustrator that won’t chat or offer pearls of wisdom but replying in as much detail as you have Mr Bingo is amazing!
Would you mind if I put this conversation up as an interview/discussion to my Blog with a few of your images as I feel it would be really helpful to other illustrators?
I see what you mean about illustration changing a lot, I definitely saw a change in illustration since the late 1990’s, especially as editorial illustration was making the transition to digital with hand drawn illustration losing popularity commercially besides a select few who embraced the Apple Mac to compliment traditional techniques. Personally I think this was the time when graphic illustration really came to the forefront whilst illustration went into hibernation, with less clients wanting to use traditional illustrators in favour of computer based designers!
It was around this time myself and a few friends tried to start an agency but without a cash injection or a major client we were just too wet behind the ears to make it work. So I made the mistake of taking the first design based job that came along and became a slave to the wage. After living life as a data monkey by day and hell raiser by night I came to realise that I had been denying myself the very thing that makes me tick, the core of me – ‘creativity’! By which time my heart had already turned black! Luckily enough for me after 19 mondays off sick in one year, redundancy came along…so I took it with arms wide open, this gave me enough of a cushion to come to understand things like ‘web presence’ better, even though I had worked in e-commerce based design for 8 years so much had completely passed me by.
I used the following year to try and get a better understanding of exactly where I may fit in within the design/art/illustration universe and I’m still trying to figure that one out and probably still will be until the day I die.
At times I feel I should be trying to establish more of a style to distinguish my work and make it more accessible from that of my more personal/individual pieces of expression and experimentation.
I suppose the key is how you balance doing something that you love with something that you do to sustain yourself! I don’t create for recognition or money alone but because I want to wake up each morning knowing I’m doing something I love…and if it pays the bills – bonus!
I think recently all styles of illustration have had a massive resurgence and it is an amazing time to be involved in illustration at a time when it seems to be eclipsing fine art and graphic design, this may be down to creative bookmarking websites or the rise in more accessible forms and styles of street art.
Apology’s for hijacking your interview Mr Bingo but your advice has definitely pointed me in the right direction and hopefully others too.
Thanks again fella much appreciated!
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Please join this discussion by leaving your comments, wisdom, experiences, methods or secrets on how you make your way through life as an artist/illustrator…share the knowledge you can’t take it with you!
Mr Bingo: http://www.mr-bingo.org.uk