Illustration First Moves, with Shirley Hottier

I had the pleasure of attending an online event from the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, titled, 'Illustration First Moves, held earlier this month on Wednesday 15 March 2023.

The Quentin Blake Centre, formerly known as House of Illustration, invited freelance illustrators, agents and industry professionals to share their stories, experiences and top tips.  The freelancers I had the pleasure of listening to were Illo Agency’s Shirley Hottier, Manjit Thapp and Harry Woodgate. Each artist packed in inspiring examples and practical advice for starting out as an illustrator.  They demonstrated the range of different opportunities that illustration has to offer, and how to go about finding them.

Here’s some marvellous advice from the artists that really related to the illo philosophy: From Manjit, she stressed the importance of balancing personal and commissioned work, especially as her first two projects came from self initiated ideas.  You can also cleverly sell the work you do along the way in your own personal shop.

She added that it’s good to set yourself goals with deadlines, to get into the practice of being accountable and proactive.   She also touched on the fact that it's important to make those face to face appointments, to build relationships with people, as you never know what that might lead to. 

And finally, she mentioned it being important to watermark your work, or perhaps have a signature (even one other people may not notice) so it can relate back to you and conclude this is work yours. Interesting that Manjit shared she was noticed by a client on Pinterest, which is perhaps something you might not have paid attention to initially.

Next, artist Harry Woodgate shared some great info re: awards they got involved in whilst at Uni, that there are a host of competitions worth entering and some not so worthwhile. I.e. D&AD, YCN student awards etc. 

And then Harry gave some invaluable advice on fees and how to gain repeat business. 

They also said to push your niche, which is something at Illo we take pride in. You want your client to come to you as you’re the best person to tackle that specific story or angle. So do make a mission statement for yourself. 

And last, but not least, our illo artist Shirley Hottier!

Shirley gave a wonderful talk, where she shared the fact that she never went to art school; and that she hasn’t let this set her back. Shirley seizes every opportunity, which all contribute to a successful path in illustration. She has also gained work through self advertising. She had a piece of work on her tote bag that led to a project from someone on her commute who approached her to say they loved the work! 

Shirley says be bold and grab all the opportunities you can i.e. going to as many art related events as possible. Make sure there’s always something happening, as everything is initiated by you, and to always take your business card – as this could kick start a new relationship.  Shirley also thought about the aspects of her previous job that she enjoyed the most and she made that her strength and the go to for any work in relation to this, resulting in her previous employer becoming her client later in her career. 

Here’s some of the pieces she shared below. 

If you have a project in mind for Shirley or you’d like more info, please contact her agent [email protected]

At illo agency, we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.