I receive a lot of emails from people asking me for more information about my work,
background and inspirations; whether it be for a school assignment, or just general curiosity.
Unfortunately i'm not always able to reply to them all as it does take a lot of time
to answer these questions both informatively and thoughtfully.
But - I totally understand, as I was a student myself once!
So, what I have done is to pool them all together, and come up with this FAQ post,
which will hopefully provide more of an insight into me and my work!
I have also added links to the end of this post
of some interviews that have been published on the web.
WHERE ARE YOU BASED & WHERE DID YOU STUDY?
I'm based in Tasmania, Australia, which is incredibly beautiful, green, and quiet.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Tasmanian School of Art in 2006,
majoring in both Graphic Design and Photography.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE FOR YOU?
I start the day with a big cup of tea or coffee (depending on energy levels!) and an email check.
I'll do a quick read of my favourite blogs and websites, before looking at my tasks for the day.
Depending on what i'm working on at the time it's a big day of collating and collaging reference imagery,
scanning and colouring at my desk, or enjoying movie marathons while I draw.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF BEING A COMMERCIAL ILLUSTRATOR?
The only con of working as a commercial illustrator is probably the lack of time to experiment
and develop as an artist in between jobs. It's a certain style/aesthetic that catches a client's eye
and ultimately that's what gets you a job, and then that job can be what leads you to the next.
So it's an on-going cycle of creating similar imagery.
I think every illustrator wants to experiment, push themselves to think outside the square
and evolve as an artist, but people will always notice you for what you just completed
and it can be tricky to change it up in between. It's somewhat of a catch-22.
The pros, however, far outweigh any cons. I get paid to do what I love the most!
For those of us who love to draw, this is the dream! It's what you aspire to as a student
going through art school, as a child who can't stop drawing.
It's so amazing to have the opportunity to work with such creative minds;
to be called upon to put somebody's vision onto paper!
To have people respond to your work in such an enthusiastic and positive way is the best feeling.
WHAT WORK ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I've been so privileged to work on some incredible jobs with amazing creatives,
and of course being published in VOGUE was a huge career highlight!
In 2014 I completed a project with Valentino Parfums,
which has to be one of my most exciting, and beautiful, jobs to date!
To illustrate for a major fashion house is any fashion illustrator's dream,
and to be able to work on a project for a product you actually use is the cherry on top.
I've also been very lucky to work with clients to produce beautifully crafted products;
stationery for Samantha Wills, silk scarves for L'avion, and wonderful glass bottles for Mount Franklin
which supported the McGrath Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
As an illustrator, it's such a rush to see your work applied to something more tactile than a printed page.
To be able to pick something up, wear it, use it, and know that you helped to create it is an amazing feeling!
I'm proud, too, of the work that I am able to complete in between commercial projects.
I feel very passionate about working on my shop, creating my limited edition prints,
as there is more creative control and freedom to experiment
and explore ideas within my own personal work. This is basically where I get to play!
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR OWN IDENTITY WHEN WORKING WITH BRANDS?
The biggest challenge in working for bigger, established, brands is of course tailoring
your work to suit their aesthetic, while also maintaining your own style.
At the end of the day you want people to be able to recognise that it's your work
but they still need to be able to associate it with the brand that you're working with.
It's a difficult balance, but it's all part of the fun!
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CURRENT / FUTURE STATE OF FASHION ILLUSTRATION?
I think we're experiencing a real renaissance for fashion illustration, especially in the commercial landscape
- it's an exciting time to be an illustrator.
I've always felt that Illustration is a lovely alternative to the photograph, and while I think that
fashion photography + illustration go hand in hand, there's something about the
creative freedom you have in an illustration that can't quite be beaten.
(Unless you're a photographic genius like Tim Walker - for whom I bow down!)
You can be completely chaotic, controlled, or surreal with a pencil,
putting images to paper that may not be able to exist in a physical world.
Incorporating fashion, to me, is more the fun as it's all about colour and texture, movement;
capturing that in an illustration is an exciting challenge and I think the results
always look so varied and amazing.
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS & WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
I like to take a brief and re-interpret it a little by creating my own mood-boards for inspiration.
I then collage a reference picture out of imagery I collate from various places
including those which I have photographed myself (ie small floral elements, or a figure pose)
and work from that to create a rough sketch which I then email to the client for approval.
From there it's a long process of rendering the final illustration completely in pencil (LYRA Art & Design)
and scanning it into my computer to be coloured/layered with other elements, including watercolours and acrylics.
WHO AND WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I can be inspired by literally anything!
But most commonly I find inspiration in fashion photography, film, and nature.
I also have a ridiculously large collection of magazines and books so that's virtually my research library.
Photographers like Tim Walker, Cecil Beaton, and Annie Leibovitz are my idols;
they're all about capturing fashion and beauty with a quirky, theatrical edge.
I love movies, I watch them while I draw, while I don't. So I often pick up ideas from films,
whether it be jogged by a quote, or a costume or a character.
I grew up devouring fairytales, and I think largely I just love a good story.
I think any good illustration needs a bit of a narrative.
I also love the texture and colour in flowers and animals.
That juxtaposition of colour and beauty with these raw/wild elements.
It's a little bit creepy, a little bit beautiful.
My favourite artists, that forever motivate, inspire and captivate me, are David Downton, Julie Verhoeven,
Bob Peak, Stina Persson, Kat Macleod, Audrey Kawasaki and René Gruau.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING ILLUSTRATORS?
Always push yourself to do the best work you can do, and draw what you LOVE!
When starting out, it can be tempting to emulate another artist that you admire
or to try to mould your work into what you think it should be, which is never a good idea
because the thing that makes your work special is, of course, your individuality!
We all have our own way of working, and ultimately that's what sets us apart, so trust those instincts.
It's not always easy to get exposure, and it's a competitive industry, so another thing you should do
is set up a blog / facebook page / instagram account, and self-publish the work that you're happy with.
It's a great way to have your work seen and build up a network with other artists and creatives.
DO YOU TAKE PRIVATE COMMISSIONS?
Unfortunately I don't, primarily due to time constraints.
My client work keeps me pretty busy, and when I do find some free time,
I love to use it to work on personal projects and also to build up the prints in my shop,
which is my biggest passion.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?
In between client jobs, I am currently working on one of my biggest passions
- a large personal project, which I am excited to reveal more about soon.
For more info and interviews please see the following websites:
SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION