In the beginning...

I have been having a clear out in my loft and came across these drawings from my student days. They brought back a lot of memories and made me think about the art journey I have been on.

I did a degree in Illustration at Kingston Upon Thames University. The course only had around 20 people and was one of the best in the country at the time. I was thrilled when I got accepted there. I had just done a foundation course in art and design and loved it. Drawing and painting was something I just had to do and I never stuck for ideas. When I started my degree things went wrong and I completely lost my confidence. On our first day we had to go to the British Museum to do location drawing. I hated it. I didn’t even know where the museum was, how to get there or how to navigate the tube. I was very shy, didn’t like drawing in public and my confidence was destroyed. By the end of the course I was slowly starting to find my feet but it was too late. I’d wasted 3 years being completely lost and not really knowing what I was doing.

Upon graduating I worked in a pub whilst trying to get freelance work. The world wide web was only starting to emerge with hardly any companies having websites or email addresses. I didn’t even own a computer anyway so everything was done the old fashioned way with colour photocopies and self addressed envelopes. Money was tight and I could only afford to reach out to 3/4 companies a week. It was a slow process but my first commission came along a few months later with a regular slot for a BBC children’s magazine. Then I struck gold and was lucky to start freelancing for a company called Tigerprint. They produced all the greetings cards, wrapping paper, and stationery for the UK department store Marks and Spencer. I absolutely loved it and after a few months was lucky enough to be offered a full time position as an in house illustrator/designer. I was in the right place at the right time. I learnt everything there from illustrator and photoshop skills, to mocking up, to how to be a commercial illustrator and designer. I am eternally grateful for what Tigerprint did for me. I worked in a wonderful studio with fabulous designers who were like a second family. What we had was very special, there was no competition between us - we all pitched in and supported each other. Going to work was never a chore.

However all good things must come to an end. After 16 years I grew tired of the company. I had stayed too long. I loved the environment and people so much though I would have been daft to give it up. Luckily that decision wasn’t mine. The studio closed and I was made redundant. I have to say it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Yes I was sad and obviously worried about money and losing the security of a full time job. But I was free and had been hankering for something else for a long time. It gave me the opportunity to be freelance and I was beyond excited! That was 4 years ago now and I can honestly say it’s been the best! I have been fortunate enough to have continuous work and although I do miss my Tigerprint family I love what I have now. The world feels full of opportunities and I never know what exciting projects are going to come my way. I love the freedom that I have. The only restrictions you have when you’re freelance are the ones you put on yourself. I genuinely love what I do and do what I love.