So lots has been happening in the past couple of months! I’ve been crazy busy and have only finally got some time to myself to sit down and update all the internet-thingies. So here’s what’s been happening.
I went to the US in July for several weeks. Firstly, I went to Portland for ICON, the Illustration Conference, a fantastic 4-day event of workshops, panels, speakers and let’s not forget the parties.
I took part in a workshop the 2nd day on Visual Metaphors in Editorial Illustration with the lovely Alexandra Zsigmond, one of the art directors at the NY Times. We did some exercises on brainstorming, word association and how to use this to combat cliches and stereotypes and come up with interesting, new metaphors for concepts. Which can be a challenge when you have a topic like ‘Healthcare for profit’ and you have to fight to NOT draw hospitals with crosses and dollar signs.
That evening I also took part in the Roadshow - a portfolio review/marketplace event, with lots of illustrators all showing their work and wares. I found it pretty helpful and successful to promote my work and meet lots of interesting people and potential clients. Paula Scher (yes, THAT one) was the keynote speaker for the conference and she also paid me a visit at the Roadshow. I was tickled pink that she took one of my Rockaway Summer
postcards and got to chat to her about a project she was working on for Rockaway in NY.
The conference itself was really varied and fun, lots of different speakers from various backgrounds in illustration and art, whether it be the illustrators themselves, art directors, animators, you name it. A few faves were Paula, Victo Ngai, Jon Klassen and Damian Kulash (from OK Go).
The conference was really terrific for networking. I’ve made some great friends out of it and also gotten some great contacts and commissions as a result. We don’t really have any events of this scale in Australia that are purely focused on illustration, so it was really nice to be around other like-minded people for an entire weekend.
Portland itself was a realllly nice looking city too. Lots of arty, hipster types, but it was so picturesque and green and everyone was super friendly. I’d really like to go back to visit.
After Portland, we spent a week in NY. I’d been once with my family when I was 11, but never as an adult and I was itching to go. The illustration community in NY (particularly Brooklyn) is really thriving. I got to spend a week in town, meeting art directors and hanging out with friends. What can I say? NY is an exciting place to be. I managed to get my first commission with the NY Times from the visit (thank you Nicholas), a Book Review piece.
I also got to meet and work with SooJin Buzelli (CD/AD for titles Plansponsor, Planadviser, and aiCIO). She was really generous with her time and showed me some of her work and processes in getting the magazines together. I also got to nab a few copies of some of my favourite magazine covers - JooHee Yoon
, Jillian Tamaki
and my friend Ping Zhu
SooJin has a reputation for being one of the best art directors around and looking at her work and the illustrators she works with (both seasoned and new, emerging illustrators), it’s not hard to see why. She brings out the best in illustrators and has a great talent for turning what could be fairly boring topics (Business? Stocks? Superannu-something? ) into interesting and engaging pieces.
I’m really chuffed to have gotten to work with both SooJin and Nicholas Blechman as a result of the trip. They were both names on my wish-list and it was a real pleasure to work with people who are not only at the top of their game, but really normal and down to earth. It breaks the illusion a bit, coming from Australia, to realise that NY just happens to be another city, full of normal people like you, trying to do their job and create good work.
I also spent an afternoon in Rockaway catching up with Giovanna from the Rockaway Summer
. Hotdogs and beer by the beach! It was really chilled out and lovely and reminded me a lot of the Northern Beaches in Sydney where I grew up.
So now, it’s back to reality and cold, miserable Sydney. We had an amazing time on our trip and just being in the US (even if only for 3 weeks) has really helped give my career a boost. I definitely recommend doing it if you can. Secretly, I’m trying to hint to my other half to let us move to NY, but whether that happens or not, I think we’ll definitely be heading to the next ICON in 2 years.