Cleveland College of Art and Design welcomed artists from all over the UK as it celebrated the art of illustration with a two-day programme of guest speakers.
Illustration, graphics design and fine art students from the college’s university-level campus in Hartlepool were treated to a series of lectures for the ‘Illustratorpalooza’ event, which was kicked off by Scottish fashion illustrator, Lucy MacLeod.
Specialising in charcoal as a medium, Lucy has adopted a painting approach to create her uniquely styled portrait illustrations for clients such as Levi Strauss, British Airways, La Perla, The Times and Marie Claire.
Demonstrating her talents with a selection of works created throughout her career, the Edinburgh-based artist talked about her personal journey through the profession, from student to her more recent commissions, and her experiences with the advertising, editorial and marketing industries. She also inspired the students to aim big, as much of her client base is outside the UK, as well as ways of marketing themselves as a freelance creative and how to work with clients in the real world.
Lucy had a wealth of advice to give to the packed audience to help them in their careers as artists and designers. “Practice makes perfect! No amount of marketing and fast talking can make a portfolio look better, only dedication to honing your craft, be it digital or hand rendered illustration, can make work truly stand out to prospective clients.
“I also believe strongly in developing meaningful connections with other illustrators, artists, creatives and those working on the business end of the industry. It’s these connections that tend to bear fruit and make working on projects a much more enjoyable experience.”
22-year-old Alan Vest from Eaglescliffe is on the final year of his BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application, and thoroughly enjoyed Lucy’s lecture. He said: “Lucy has been a big inspiration for me and the work I have created for the past few years whilst studying at CCAD. I was very excited to hear the illustrator was giving a talk, and it was great to hear her stories and experiences within the creative industry.
“Lucy’s drawings are so captivating, the energy and expression which she captures in her drawings really speak to me, and are an ongoing inspiration for me.”
Lucy’s lecture was followed by leading children’s illustrator, Stuart Trotter. The County Durham artist, renowned for his work on the Rupert Bear annuals as well as character illustrations for Postman Pat, Kipper and Wallace and Gromit, is also creative director at Rockpool Children’s Books, publisher of illustrated children’s picture books.
Stuart, from Ferryhill, was able to bring a different perspective on the illustration industry, with his specialism in children’s illustrated books rich in storytelling and pictures. During his lecture he expanded on the creation of his own written and illustrated books such as Greedy Grumpy Hippo, Big Bully Hippo, My Perfect Pet and Boomerang Bear. He also talked about his career as an illustrator for other publishers, ad agencies and design companies, clients including Saatchi and Saatchi, NSPCC, RSPCA, Hodder Children’s Books, Simon and Schuster, Ladybird, to name but a few.
Following the lecture, Stuart said: “I’ve lived and worked as an illustrator, author, designer and publisher every day since 1978 and enjoy what I do every day, so it is great to be able to enthuse students who may follow similar paths.
“I wanted to encourage the students to embrace illustration, art and design as a lifestyle choice because it’s certainly not a 9-5 job. With deadlines much stricter than university, I would always encourage students to get work experience in the industry where possible. It’s a very challenging career, but ultimately rewarding.”
First year illustration degree student Abigail Mitchell, 18, is from Sacriston in County Durham and currently living in Hartlepool. She said: “The guest speakers were very insightful, humorous and inspirational and gave great advice from their own personal experiences. It’s has been a great opportunity made possible by the course leaders to help us in our future careers”
Satirical cartoonist Hunt Emerson concluded the first day of talks with a presentation that spanned his career; showing how with hard work and determination (and a little bit of humour) he has kept working and developing his style.
On day two Comic artist Warwick Johnson Cadwell showed the audience sneak previews of his new graphic novel and talked about his own processes and those of the industry, as well as advice on how to get noticed.
To conclude the illustration series of guest lectures, the final speaker was death metal artist famously known as Godmachine and a legend in the world of fantasy and horror illustration.
With early influences including 2000AD comics and Santa Cruz skateboards, Cardiff-born Godmachine is well known for his graphic style of drawing. His work has been featured in magazines such as Computer Arts Magazine, Loaded and Metal Hammer, and for clients including skateboarder Tony Hawk, Universal Records and Adidas, as well as bands Eagles of Death Metal and Lamb of God.
Talking about his journey into the world of illustration, lessons learned and how the industry works, Godmachine gave an insight into what it takes to make a successful artist today, including being proactive to gain work experience, collaborating with other artists and exploiting the world of social media to the full.
“Although I studied graphic design at university years ago, everything I learned was on the job and I’m still learning now. I think a lot of universities, including CCAD, are now realising that preparing someone for the work place is just as important as being creative.
“Today, the next generation of artists really need to put themselves out there to make themselves stand out from the crowd, and social media is the best tool ever for making your ‘brand’ known to the market. But most of all students need to take chances, be passionate about their work, explore their own creativity, and their style will come through on its own.”
Ben Clowes, Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application, said: “What an honour it has been to have five illustrators that are at the top of their game come and talk with such honesty, and wit. It’s great for our students to see the amazing artwork these creatives are producing, to hear stories from people working in the industry today, and to receive feedback on their own work from these guest speakers, which is very exciting.”