An article I found on the YCN website, an interview with illustrator Ben Scruton.
Ben Scruton on illustration
Regular YCN collaborator, Ben Scruton, 25, is an illustrator who lives in Marden, a small village in Kent. Ben studied Illustration and Animation at Kingston University and has gone on to produce vibrant and distinctive work for a range of clients including numerous character-based illustrations and animations for Orange. Here, Ben shares his experiences as a freelance illustrator and provides some useful and positive insights into the industry...
YCN: What was the best thing you learnt at university?
How to animate - even though in the end I decided I didn't have the patience! I have to say it was a difficult but extremely rewarding experience. We had some great and very talented tutors who pushed us quite hard. It was very stressful but it taught me a lot about time management, character design, and endurance; valuable lessons which have contributed to my strengths as an illustrator.
Also, I learnt how to speak about and present my work which was incredibly valuable as it helped me in overcoming any ?stage fright' I might face during client meetings.
YCN: Describe a typical day in the life of illustrator, Ben Scruton.
I get up around 7.30am when my wife Helen leaves for work; make some coffee and check the all important Facebook page, plus my illustration pages on Facebook and MySpace etc. After some breakfast I get to work checking my website, my work email and usually manage to get any correspondance out of the way by 9am. Then I get on with whatever projects I have on my plate. I work through till around 2pm and have some lunch; and then go for a training cycle-ride most days. I find that one of the main benefits of working freelance is the flexibility you can as I can work from late afternoon through to the evening to make up for any time lost during the day.
I get some dinner on the go at around 6pm, in time for Helen getting home. Then if I don?t have much work on I usually use the evenings to work on my personal projects or meet up with friends.
YCN: How did you first get involved with YCN?
I was in my last year at Kingston when Josefine from YCN, who was working with Friends of the Earth at the time, was running a project with the university. I volunteered for the project, there was an interview process and I got the job. It must have gone well because when Josefine moved jobs and joined YCN, she gave me a call to see if I wanted to come on board with YCN.
YCN: What has been the best project you've worked on?
I was commissioned to do the Red Bee character design project for Orange through YCN. It was a long one but the pay was good and I got to design a large range of characters which was really great fun from start to finish. The best bit was seeing all the characters come to life at the end once the animator had worked his magic!
YCN: How often do you tend to receive commissions?
I?ve been quite fortunate in that the commissions I have received have been well paid. I usually get one or two a month which pays the bills. I am currently working on raising my profile and increasing my self-promotion to try and get a more regular stream of work coming in.
Describe your style of illustration.
I don?t know if I can describe it but I can tell you the process. I draw it by hand in pencil and then in pen, scan it and add colour, shadows, texture, etc using Photoshop. It?s important that initially it starts out as a line-drawing as I don?t like to lose the hand-drawn feel that can occur using illustrator sometimes. I also love using textures to to bind the image.
What's the pay like?!
Very good, for the work I have done so far, although I?m glad of a dual income as there can be long periods waiting for new work when there?s no money coming in.
What's the hardest thing about being an illustrator?
For me, discipline is the hardest thing as it's very easy to get distracted when working at home. Also, the admin and financial side; especially sorting out tax returns, national insurance etc was a real struggle.
What's the best advice you have been given as an illustrator? Do you have any advice for illustrators who are just starting out?
Self-promotion is key. Send out mailers regularly to possible clients and agencies. Another good tip I was given was to put together a list of publications that use a similar style of illustration to yours and send in samples of your work regularly. At university, we were always told to go to the Borders bookshop on Oxford Street and trawl their large range of magazines for contact details of art directors, editors, etc.