Illustration can be a lonely business. For a fair few of us, we’re alone and probably working from home. We’re in a little bubble where our friends and family tell us our work is great but it’s not much of an insight to help us develop. Where can we turn to when we need to vent about not being paid or need some advice on a contract?
I was invited to join Pretty Picture Club in May, a small illustration collective started by Alex Clauss the month before. It came at the right time, I’d fallen out of love with illustration and was unhappy with my work. I was spending infinite amounts of time scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and getting envious of other artists. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to start or find something local but it always fell flat.
In the nearly 4 months of being part of PPC, I feel like I’ve got my mojo back. My style and how I work has progressed massively, I’ve had a fair bit of enquiries and work and most importantly, I feel excited again to draw.
Within our small collective, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience to learn from. We have experts on self promotion, colour theory, writing a contract, using textures, animation...it goes on. Being able to learn from someone else’s experiences ensures that we don’t make the same mistakes and this allows us to develop and advance at a faster pace. And on the flip side, being able to give someone else advice and give them a leg up not only gives you those fuzzy feelings, but it’s what being a collective is all about. There’s no element of competition here, we’re all in this business together and it’s our job to help each other out.
Proper Work Crits
My buddies are amazing at giving helpful constructive criticism! Countless times, I’ve been stuck with a piece of work or a bit of style experimentation and it’s so handy to have professionals on your side to look over it with a fresh pair of eyes and it’s made me think differently about my approach to work. Illustrators are hands down the nicest and most helpful people ever. While there's an elitist tendency with some other types of creatives to gleefully mock and rip your work to shreds, an illustrator will very politely tell you how you could improve without being a dick.
Aligned Career Goals
Along my short journey so far, I’ve been met with a lot of negative attitudes and a fear of hard graft. Usually along the lines of “Oh I wish I could do xyz but (insert lazy excuse here).” I really don’t have time for that, it’s demoralising and brings me down. One of the best things about PPC is that everyone is on the same page about their career and where they want to be. Being surrounded by people who are dead serious about making shit happen and understanding that success doesn’t happen overnight is so refreshing. And empowering!
Jobs and Recommendations
Sometimes a job comes in and my style of work just isn’t right for it. I hate turning down a client without an alternative, but now I can recommend someone from our talent pool. And vice versa. Jobs that I wouldn’t have even come across are shared with everyone which again goes back to helping each other out and giving someone a leg up.
Each month we pick a theme and colour palette and create work to post across our social media channels. Each person is then sharing this content on their own social media which in turn raises everyone’s profile. And it’s no surprise we’ve all been super busy with new clients and commissions as a result!