Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Contacting Illustrator: Vicky Fallon

So this is my last post of 2013, how exciting! After contacting illustrator Vicky Fallon before Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email response from her today! Therefore, I would like to share with you all my questions and her answers which I think are very inspiring, just what I need to motivate me to push myself towards being an illustrator in the New Year!

Here are a few links to Fallon's beautiful personal work:

Lemonade Illustration Agency Portfolio

Personal Website: VickyInk

Facebook Page: VickyFallonIllustration

After coming across her work on the Lemonade Agency website, I desired to know more about the illustrator:

"Hey Vicky,
My name is Carla Taylor, a second year illustration student studying at the University of Huddersfield. I am eager to become part of the illustration industry, therefore I would like to ask how did you become so successful and where did you start out to be an illustrator?
I found you on the Lemonade agency website and I must say your illustrations are absolutely beautiful. How do you find working for an agency and do you rely on this for commissioned work? Also, I had a peek at your personal website and saw that you sell products with your own unique designs on them. How did you go about doing this? I would be interested in starting out designing for products similar to this, I would really value your advice.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions.
Carla Taylor."

I was very happy to hear back and she gave a thorough and intricate response:

"Hi Carla!

Thanks for your email and hope you had a lovely Christmas. 

Thanks for your lovely compliments! I would say I do rely on Lemonade for the majority of my work and also Hire an Illustrator. HAI takes an upfront payment of £185 for the year or £3.99 per week but I've made my money back and much more, so I recommend it. 

I think the best tip I can give you is just to get your work out there as much as you possibly can. A website and blog is great - there is a real sense of community among bloggers and a lot of work is shared around with credit so it can be such an amazing networking tool for you. But in terms of getting your work seen by the right people - try to submit it wherever and whenever you can. Look at different websites that feature upcoming artists/illustrators, online magazines, competitions, real-life magazines and you can of course send your folio to art directors of different design agencies as they're the ones who commission illustrators outside of their agency for jobs. Just something small, no need to send them everything. Just a quick email - or note - to say that you just wanted to share your work and would love to be featured/work for them anytime. Choose maybe 5 of your best illustrations and attach/print them.

That's what I did when I was starting out, and to be honest alot of the time you never hear back, but occasionally you do and that's the main thing. It's also a great way to receive advice/feedback on your work from people in the industry that do the hiring.

There’s lots of websites out there that will print your designs onto products, my faves are moo.com and awesome merchandise, put them out there where you can - craft fairs, Etsy, Folky and on your own website. 

I'd say keep doing what you do, the more the do the better you get! Patience is a massive part of being an illustrator but stick at it!

Hope that helps and good luck with your studies :) i’ll keep an eye out for your stuff in the coming years! 

Happy new year! 

I must admit, after reading Fallon's response, it has made me a lot more confident for the New Year. It just proves that even successful illustrators are willing to help those like me who are yet to get their foot in the creative door of illustration. 

Through talking to practicing illustrators, it has given me a realistic insight in how to get my work known and recognised to eventually become a successful illustrator myself. I hope this has motivated you to try email an illustrator yourself. So, send a quick email, don't be shy! The worst they can do is not respond, the best they can do is give you REAL advice!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, 13 December 2013

'Hide and Seek' Exhibition

Statement along side exhibition:

'My inspirations for this project were derived from the film ‘Drowning by Numbers’. I decided to use the themes in the film as a direction for my work including: numbers, death and games. One particular game featured within the film inspired me to create my own pack of playing cards: ‘Dawn Card-Castles’.

The illustrations for each card are based on a variety of symbolisms and research into the suits. To reflect the film, my illustrations all contain the suits and numbers in subtle ways, sometimes more obscure than others. I feel this helps my illustrations become more fun and the viewer will sometimes have to find the symbols to figure out which card they relate to. This creates a light-hearted notion for some themes that may not be seen in this way otherwise.'

The title 'Hide and Seek' came from the playful idea of games and the concept of hidden numbers and imagery which I have included in my playing card designs. This idea was taken from the film 'Drowning by Numbers' as the numbers 1-100 are integrated sequentially within the scenes; sometimes the numbers are more visible than others, and from personal experience when I watched the film initially I did not find all 100 numbers. This idea has been developed into my own designs where sometimes the numbers and suits are more obscure than others.

Presentation of Exhibition

Four images just less than A3, over-mounted onto black A3 mount board to give a visual look of frames.

This aesthetic decision was made as I felt that the white background of the images would cause them to fade into the white wall. The black frame enables the imagery to stand out and also gives them a professional finish.

The inclusion of these images was to give the viewer an insight into all 40 of my playing card designs as I was unsure if the finished pack of cards would arrive on time for assessment. This was successful as it illustrates how all my designs would look when put into their desired context; you can see them on a closer scale on a previous blog post 'Final Playing Card Designs'


To compliment the mounted images, I picked out 5 of my favourite designs, all on watercolour paper including 3 originals. I really wanted the viewer to see the designs as finished artworks on the textured paper so they could see where I started out. The frames give the pieces a professional look for the exhibition space, and their rectangle forms take a similar shape to the playing cards which are the intended contexts.

I was extremely relieved when my pack of cards finally arrived! Therefore, this allowed me to incorporate the cards into the exhibition space and give my designs a visual context as a finished product. 

Simply hanging the cards sequentially on string with pegs add a final touch to my exhibition space. The viewer is able to see each stage I underwent to produce my final playing card designs. 

The back of the card was a collage I created earlier in my project which I made with a mixture of newspaper cutouts, ink and acrylic, layered and edited further in Photoshop. I think the abstract composition compliments my designs effectively and the darker background contrasts with the lighter face of the cards; this is reminiscent of real playing card backs which always have some form of pattern on the back which continues through each card.

Final 'Hide and Seek' Exhibition

Overall, I am very happy with the presentation of my work in this exhibition set-up. The entire look is professional and finished, including all of my designs in a contextualised form. The layout is simple and straight to the point, with no extra props which distract from the artwork itself. This is all that is needed, with an added statement, to explain the intention and aims of my entire project.

A very successful outcome.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Final Playing Cards Designs

After much experimenting with different mixed medias and techniques, here are the final playing card designs which I decided to include. I have only designed for the numbers within a pack of playing cards as this was the main focus on my project and therefore did not feel the need to design for any of the royal cards. 


My main inspirations were derived from the research I did throughout the project. This included finding out the symbolic meanings behind the numbers 1-10 and the four playing cards suits. Initially, I found this quite difficult as there were so many varied interpretations, so I decided that I would use this as initial research and and other symbolism would come from my own imagination. Many of my designs were thought out through the experimentation of media, i.e. watercolour, which allowed me to create unique and simple designs incorporating the numbers and suit symbols.

All in all, I am happy with the outcome of my designs and believe they fit together stylistically between each suit and also as a pack of cards.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Alan Driscoll's Fascinating Deck of Cards

For my final body of work I have decided to produce unique designs based on my project and the themes in 'Drowning by Numbers' to create a pack of playing cards. Having figured out about half of the designs, I came to a mental block and found myself struggling to think of the rest of the designs. Therefore, I spoke to my tutor Ian Massey who gave me a link to a fantastic set of playing cards where 56 contemporary artists/ designers collaborated to make individual card designs. Included, there was a description of the cards:

Fifty-six contemporary British artists have been especially commissioned to contribute to this unique interpretation of a pack of playing cards. Each cards represents the original work of a different artist, together with additional designs for the reverse and for the box. The cards have been printed on Superluxe board and have been produced in the traditional Old English size.
Although some of the artists are better knon than others, all have examples of their work in public collections in Britain or aborad. A list of the contributors involved and details of where their work can be seen in presented below. Numbers alongside each collection relate to the numbered alphabetical list of artists' names that follows.
From the abstract to the surrealist to the representative, this deck represents a fairly wide variety of modern art forms, media and technique. In the works depicted in this deck you'll find portraiture, pure color studies, primitive work almost cartoonish in its aesthetic, even photography, retouched and pure, and more. Most every modern school can be found here. And there is no lack of visual puns. Each of the artists represented here took their own particular inspiration from the card they were given in a strange and unique direction. No two paintings are more than superficially alike, and they are worth studying together as much as they are worth studying separately. In their similarities you can find the soul of playing cards, and in their differences you can find the soul of the artists.The box design is by Tim Whitmore, the back design is by Kenneth Martin, and the joker is by either Anthony Green or Anthony Donaldson (it's not clear from the documentation).

Here are some examples of the cards:


Some of the artists involved in this project are:

Artists include:
Patrick HERON
Sandra BLOW

Having seen the variations in the designs, it has given me more confidence in my own designs. Initially I was worried about my designs being too simple, but having seen the success in the simplicity of these creations I feel that sometimes simple can work better than complex artwork. From looking at this pack of playing cards, I feel that I can provide a wider variety of work in my own designs without worrying if they all link together stylistically and visually. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Contacting Illustrator Carly Davies

Nearing the end of my first term of University as a second year Illustration student, I am eager to find out more about placement opportunities for my sandwich year. Therefore, after browsing through the net, I came across the wonderfully talented Illustrator Carly Davies who's work can be viewed on her own website at Carly Davies Illustration. Take a peek :)

After seeing her post about her Hallmark placement, I was intrigued and desired to know more so I emailed her: 

Hey Carly,
I am a second year Illustration student at the University of Huddersfield, and was just browsing through the net hoping to find some inspiration for my placement year in Industry. I found your blog post from 2011 saying you had just finished a placement at Hallmark.
I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how you went about getting a placement, whether you know of any opportunities, and how you kick started your career as an illustrator?

Thanks so much for your time, I hope to hear from you soon :)

Regards, Carla Taylor

I was pleased to here back from her :) This is her reply:

"Sorry, I only just remembered that I have to reply to this!

I gained my placement by exhibiting relevant and commercial illustration at New Designers exhibition. I was first approached by Hallmark and offered a commission, then on the back of that being successful, I was offered a two week placement.

Aside from gaining a placement this way, the best way to approach them, would either be to work up a strong creative CV with some relevant illustrations to show off your style, or to keep entering the Tigerprint competition (tigerprint and Hallmark studios are in the same building/owned by the same company.) The more you enter, the more your work will be directed towards the styles that they look for. Then if you don't achieve any attention from that, send Hallmark another email showing all your entries and write a really nice cover letter that shows how passionate and enthusiastic you are about greetings cards.

My career all kick started from New Designers > to the commission > to the placement, then after the placement I sent around my creative CV and I would say the placement almost definitely got me my job. (I was employed in November...only a few months after graduation.)

Hope that is helpful,


After receiving this response from such a talented illustrator, it made me realise that with a lot of effort, enthusiasm and passion I will get to where I want to be. It has also made me more confident talking to practicing illustrators to gain advice and knowledge on how to gain access to such a difficult and competitive industry.

I hope this helped you too! :)