End of April I had just handed in my last ever university module. Exciting times, but then the reality kicks in of ‘what happens next?’. I feel like you get so sucked up in your course, your work, meeting your deadlines that when the rush is over you haven’t actually had time to think about your next steps. So what is next?
Starting my Illustration course at University of Gloucestershire I had no idea what to expect, my mind was so narrow to the thought of ‘illustration’ that it didn’t stretch beyond ‘drawings in children’s books’ – how naive of me. Three years later and I have a better understanding of myself as an illustrator and some directions I could take myself in.
Luckily, my course has offered a lot of support in the paths we could take and a lot of these ideas and concepts are integrated into the modules themselves. A whole module was dedicated to being professional, work experience and internships. Take the opportunities that are presented to you – don’t avoid things because they are scary or difficult. Opportunities like this are within the safety blanket of University as practice for the real world - (whether we knew it or not). Explore new avenues and different areas of interest as you never know what that might spark for you.
‘Take the opportunities that are presented to you.’
As an illustrator, I found my ‘visual language’ at end of second year moving into third year. As cliché as it sounds, something just clicked for me and I knew the sort of path I wanted to take. I LOVE the handmade, whether that’s craft, handmade print processes, older traditional ways of working, and naturally I found myself falling into the ‘designer maker’ category of the illustration world. I found a way of working that I enjoyed, that worked FOR ME and enabled me to bring my illustrations to life. This helped me work out where I wanted to be and that being a freelance could provide me an income and maybe one day be my full time job.
DO YOU. I can’t stress enough about being you. On a creative course, or any course for that matter, you may look at other people’s work, or ways they work and think you’re not good enough, you should be more like that. Just stop and think about what makes you you, what works for you and that is what will set you apart from everyone else. Being true to yourself will open those genuine avenues and steps for YOUR progress. Following in the shadow of someone else could wind you up with something you don’t enjoy and life is too short.
Whilst I now work a part time job to bring in some income, I pick up commissions wherever I can through my Instagram account, Facebook page and on my website. I would love for freelance illustration to be my full time career, but starting off, it’s not realistic. Push for those goal and dreams but it’s more important to be realistic.
Alongside my part time job, the occasional commission, I have my own shelf in a local retail outlet selling my illustrations. This was an opportunity that popped up around Christmas 2017 where the local shop was looking for local artists for their shop. I was nervous and didn’t think I was good enough to have my own work in a shop but I took the opportunity. TAKE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES because you never know where they will lead you.
‘Push for those goal and dreams but it’s more important to be realistic.’
Life after Uni doesn’t have to be full of worry and uncertainty. Have your long term goals in mind and work towards them bit by bit. Your dream job might pop up 5 years down the line, but don’t sit around and wait for it. Be proactive, fill your time with small steps that could build you up towards your goal. Working on a portfolio, making things for you, looking after yourself for a while after Uni, get a smaller part-time job to tide you over and look for the next opportunity. The big goals are like giant jigsaws and the pieces that make those big goals and the smaller steps you have taken.
Spend time with your loved ones, look after yourself, work hard for the things you want and just always have in the back of your mind your next goal and your next step and the rest will fall into place. It’s not as scary as you think.