Having graduated in Illustration in July’11 from the Arts University College Bournemouth, Felicity French has been one busy graduate over the past year. Acting now as a freelance illustrator she specialises in children’s, decorative illustration and card design.
As she describes herself on her online portfolio “I am a freelance illustrator who specialises in fine pen drawing, pattern, typography and watercolour. I enjoy illustrating for children and I often add cartoon qualities to create fun characters out of my drawings. I enjoy portraying organic forms through my work, for example animals and birds. I am very keen to promote sustain- ability and the use of natural and recycled materials and I print much of my work on recycled paper. I have been involved in a number of exhibitions, as well as featuring in a few publications.”
From graduating last summer, to bring it a whole year round I thought it’d be interesting to find out a little more about the life of a one-year illustration graduate.
Nicola Manuel: Hello! Thank you for taking time out of your freelance work to answer some questions. First of all how has your year been since coming from university?
Felicity French: Well it has been one jam-packed hectic year! It was pretty daunting leaving university with no real idea of what I wanted to do, but I was lucky enough to get an internship with an illustration agency that led to a full time job. I stayed there for six months; it was a great place to work but the role was very admin-based, and I wasn’t getting to do much illustration. So I decided to take the brave step of going freelance. Since then I have been working on various projects including hand-drawn children’s book illustrations and poems. I have also been lucky enough to work on book design, project managing a book called Richard Fyson, Cabinet Maker, Legacy of a Master Craftsman. This was purely computer-based and involved compiling the entire book. I also have a part-time job to keep me busy when I have no work. All in all the last year has been pretty busy!
Front cover for the book ‘Richard Fyson, Cabinet Maker, Legacy of a Master Craftsman.’
NM: Your work itself is aesthetically brilliant on the eye and has clearly been recognised from different institutes along your study. What has been your greatest achievement?
FF: That’s a tough question. There are a few I would put up there, graduating from university is one of them! I am very proud of my final year project, an activity magazine (Owl Magazine) for children that includes, games, stories, colouring pages and posters etc. I absolutely loved making it; I’m just a big kid myself really!
I would my greatest achievement is the book I project managed and designed. I studied illustration at university, not design, so I was really learning as I went. It was a huge challenge with so much information to capture and compile, as well as designing the layout and how it would all fit together. It took about eight months to make and finished as a 280 page glossy coffee-table book. The book launch was hugely successful and we sold out, so all in all a great success!
NM: To you what does the term ‘Illustration’ really mean?
FF: I think to me it means a piece of art, say a children’s book illustration or a print on your wall that captures your imagination, intrigues you and makes you want to keep looking and looking, whether it be because you just love it aesthetically or because it means something personal to you.
NM: When was it that you became most interested in children’s illustrations?
FF: I have always been interested in illustrating for children. Even as a kid I used to make my brothers and sister activity books!
Owl Magazine, Final Major Project.
NM: It’s a tough world to get into having left university with a creative degree, in fact any degree for that matter. What would be your best words of advice having already completed the transition from education to work with success?
FF: I’m not sure I would say it is a success yet! I still feel like I am finding my feet in this industry and it is very hard when you have bills to pay. But I think if you are determined enough and you really want it then it will happen. Make sure you are really on top of your social media; update your facebook and twitter regularly, get a blog or website up and running and get your work out there.
NM: If you were to aim to achieve one thing during your working career, what would it be and why?
FF: To be so successful that I constantly have work on, and to completely earn a living off my illustration. To have my own business would be nice too!
NM: Comparing a normal work place compared to freelance, what has been the real difference to you?
FF: Getting up when you like and motivating yourself. It can be really difficult to get going sometimes when you are working on your own. I think the best thing is being your own boss and being able to draw all day, that is lots of fun!
NM: Working in freelance means that you have to have a high self-drive to promote yourself and to excel within your work. Where do you find your motivation to drive your illustrations forward?
FF: I love having a brief to work to; it challenges me to do something new. Without that I tend to draw the things I am used to that I find easy. Setting yourself a brief or entering competitions are good ways to push yourself.
A sample of Felicity’s children’s illustration.
Time for those quick round off questions to finish the interview.
Person or animal? Animal
Pen or pencil? Pen
Computer or hand? Hand
Tea or coffee? Tea (and cake!)
And finally, if I were to say Illustration you’d say… capturing your imagination
Illustration really does have a different meaning to everyone and to see a little more of how Felicity shows hers have a peek at her brilliant website and blog. For those who are coming out of university hopefully this has made it seem that it’s not all that daunting and becoming a freelance illustrator is possible!