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WHY ILLUSTRATION? Coming from a long line of creative family members, it was inevitable that my chosen path would be an arty one. Despite excelling at both academic and creative subjects at school, I was always fascinated by the amount of possibilities art and design had to offer – there was never a right or wrong answer. Discovering illustration was sort of a blessing when it came to applying to University. Fine art, graphic design or textiles never thrilled me and I thought that they were the only options on the menu for a creative future until my foundation tutor one day said, ‘what about illustration?’ and the rest is history.

My time studying illustration has enabled me to develop my own illustrative language or more commonly known as a ‘style’. During my first and second year I was so concerned with finding a definitive style to work in, it resulted in some very forced and questionable looking work, which I look back on now and cringe. However, as I near the end of my degree I am confident and proud of the work I have produced and feel that it (finally) represents me and what I am about as an illustrator.

I have trialed and sampled a vast range of working methods and mediums to reach my current working process. This year, I have drawn the majority of my images from memory which has been challenging but very rewarding as it was always a niggle of mine having to rely on Google Images being open at all times...

WHAT DO I DO? I carry round a small A6 sketchbook at all times which captures my initial ideas whether it is an artist name, an interesting composition or an image sequence I don’t want to forget. I then map out in pencil my illustration onto water colour paper, mainly A3, and fill it in using black ink. I have found working solely in black to draw my images gives me the best results because it forces me to really think about the lines, shapes and use of negative space on the page before I add small amounts of limited colour digitally.

GOING DIGITAL My skills in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator over these three years have soared. Before starting university I had never opened the Adobe Suite and if I’m honest I found it very intimidating. But attending workshops and making horrific mistakes in the privacy of my own bedroom I can now use the digital skills I have learnt to make my images the best they can be. I use Adobe Illustrator to convert my inked drawing into a vector image, which sharpens the lines up nicely and also allows me to

I enjoy the balance between hand drawing and

increase the size of the image with-

digital manipulation. I will always want to

out losing quality. I then inject small

continue to physically draw my work because I

amounts of limited colour to certain

love doing it, but the freedom that digital editing

elements of the image using

gives me is quite powerful and will enable me to


easily edit work for briefs or clients in the future.

WHAT DO I LOVE? Having a stash of inspirational

planted and I still revisit them

images I am drawn to is a mas-

now for inspiration or simply a


sive part of my creative process. smile. Other aesthetic To sum it up, the outdoors is the

elements that attract me can

main influence in my work. It

be found in sequential images,

captivates me and refreshes my

pattern design,

mind if I’m ever stuck. I grew up

monochrome with negative

in the rural Staffordshire coun-

space, folk design, simple line/

tryside where all of my happy

shape work and limited colour

childhood memories were












12 1. Sanna Annukka postcards

2. Dadu Shin ‘Chinese Landscape 2’


3. Sanna Annukka postcard

4. Tom Haugomat illustration 5. Josie Portillo illustration

6. Clare Curtis ‘Autumn Heath‘

7. Jan Brewerton ‘The Garden’

8. Jan Brewerton ‘Peas in a Pod’ 9. Polish paper-cut design

10. Marimekko ceramic collection 11. Leena Kisonen ‘Keitiössa’

12. Aino-Maija Metsola design 13. Polish paper-cut design






8 6





1. Alison Deegan lino print 2. Alexander Girard print 3. Lucienne Day textile print 4. Barcelona - own photo 5. Skinny LaMinx print



6. Sanna Annukka book 7. Isle of Wight - own photo 8. Aandersson ceramics 9. Alexander Gira print 10. Cannock Chase - own photo 11. Acorn Farm - own photo 12. Prague - own photo 13. Keith Negley print


14. Vicki Turner print 15. Sanna Annukka ‘Metsälintu’




My third and final year has been quite the

After a slow start of trawling through Pinterest

whirlwind. I began the year thinking I knew

and doodling I started to focus my drawings

exactly what I wanted to do and that was

on a specific location close to my heart. My

pattern design. I approached the Pre Major

Grandparents farm was a magical place to me

Project full speed ahead and began making

growing up. It was a playground of endless fun

patterns with little context and no real feel-

to be had from building tree houses,

ing about them. After a disappointing mark

climbing hay bales, and making dens with

and a heap of forgettable pattern work I felt

stunning fields and gardens surrounding it.

very deflated and unsure of where I wanted

The memories I have from my time spent

to go or what I wanted to do for my Major

there started to surface in my drawings mak-


ing it easy to draw from memory.

Through continuous drawing I fell into an inspired and happy routine of recreating scenes from the farm, and with that my style started to flourish. I wanted to incorporate my love of pattern design into my work so I took inspiration from Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka who plays with bright, decorative and enchanting elements to make her images, which I love. I have also (surprisingly) introduced some character designs into my more recent work to give a sense of narrative. The figure I have created represents my Granddad – just a slimmer and younger version of him - going about his day on the farm. I have never held an interest for character based illustration but I have found using just one simple stylized character can take my images to a new level.


The Major Project has given me a strong

had and places that I have been and lived has

understanding of how an illustration can

given me that ability to transmit the emotion

evoke a mood or a feeling. I have made it

onto the page. As I near the end of this project

my aim to create images, which not only

I feel very positive about my portfolio and I feel

look pleasing to the eye, but that also tell

confident that I can apply the work process I

a story of a place, a moment or a feeling.

have developed this year to future commissions

Drawing from real experiences that I have

and jobs for clients.

PRESENTATION AND FRAMING The eight images I have selected as final ones from the Final Major Project act as a collection of illustrations that represent my initial inspiration which was my grand parents farm. I feel that they best convey the emotion and fond memories I had in mind when completing this project. The images work both alone and as a set so when they are displayed they shall be grouped and arranged in a way so they can connect as a set but will essentially hang on their own in their own frame. I plan on using plain white A3 frames for my eight final images.

PORTFOLIO Assembling my physical portfolio has been an important element of the Final Major Project. I have selected images which I think best reflect my progress throughout this project so I have some images from very early on in the project as well as some that I completed just a couple of weeks ago. I have arranged the pages so that the images over the double page spreads correspond with each other whether that’s by colour scheme or subject. In total I have 20 images in my portfolio but I imagine as I go to interviews or meet with potential clients in the future my portfolio will get more condensed and focused depending on the job.




1. Screen shot from 2. Screen shot from - uploading website images 3. Screen shot from

ONLINE Now that I have a better understanding of the illustration industry and what being a freelance illustrator truly means, I am aware of just how important having an accessible and clear online presence is. If I am not in a position to physically send out my work to potential clients due to financial restrictions or just precious time, then having an online portfolio displaying my work that I can just email out is vital.

WEBSITE This year I have dedicated time to building up an online presence for myself. I have set up a basic website which acts as a gallery for my work as well as a simple About Me page and a link to my professional Instagram account. I purchased my domain name ( from for the very reasonable price of ÂŁ3.49. Using Tumblr, I then applied a basic grid theme to a new blog and activated my domain name with the blog meaning I can manage my website through but the URL reads as

SELF PROMOTION Promoting yourself is probably the most important thing to do when starting out as a free lance illustrator. In the first few years after graduation I will work hard to promote my work through my personal social media platforms to generate interest in any commissioned work I might get or just personal projects I am

1. Screen shot from

doing. As well as using the power of the internet to get my work out there, I have had professional business cards printed which are a nice physical thing to give to potential clients to generate interest in my work.


2. Screen shot from

I was initially skeptical about setting up an Instagram account for my illustration. I thought it would never generate any interest and would just seem a bit pushy to constantly post my work‌ however I have found it a very enjoyable and useful way to promote my work as well as a great way to connect with fellow illustrators, magazines and agencies. Just by tagging individuals or using a simple #, I can get my work seen by whoever I want‌to an extent.



Third year has been a crucial time for

Entering competitions and getting work has

fundraising to raise money for our end of

been something new for me this year. I

year grad show in London. I have been

entered the Ohh Deer Pillow Fight

involved in organising and submitting

Competition and submitted four cushion

work for silent auctions and market stalls

designs. Although I did not win, my designs

for students and staff to attend where

generated a lot of positive interest through

they could come and buy our work as

sharing over social media and a total of 75 of

well as organising and running nights out,

my cushions were purchased giving me a nice

all to help raise money.

little bit of pocket money!

PAID WORK I was approached by a local rugby club in Stafford and asked to design their junior teams mascot. Having a real paid illustration job was so exciting and knowing that my design will be embroidered onto shirts as well as digitally printed onto posters and banners is very rewarding – a taster of what is to come in the future hopefully.

Design Juices is a website dedicated to showcasing young, up and coming designers. I contacted them and was featured on their Illustration section which is great exposure for my work.

LOOKING FORWARD In a forever growing and fiercely competitive industry, being a fresh graduate in the illustration world is quite daunting. I believe that it is unrealistic to expect to join the freelance illustration hustle and bustle with the clients and companies I wish to work with right away. Therefore I intend on continuing to develop my practice in the stress free environment of home back in Stafford. Having time back at home will give me the chance to reflect on my three years studying illustration and really question what it is I want to be doing and how to go about doing it. I am lucky enough to be able to live back with my parents while I find my feet‌ and a job. To reassure myself that I won’t be unemployed forever, I have looked at some relevant job positions within commutable distances such as Birmingham where opportunities are ample. Some positions include creative marketing assistant, junior designer, graduate project manager and trainee creative recruitment consultant.

LOOKING FURTHER FORWARD In five years time I hope to have started building up a brand for myself. Product design is something I am very interested in and I take inspiration from illustrators who turn their love of drawing into sellable products; Mirdinara, Petra BĂśrner and Vicki Turner to name a few. With the rise of online selling through I will start to build up a collection of possible product ideas such as screen prints, original drawings, stationary and zines to get familiar with the selling process and gain an idea for who is actually buying my work. I am also fortunate enough to be well connected with a group of self-employed creatives who run and sell their work in a shop in Birmingham so I will take full advantage of stocking any products I make there. I also completed a beginners course in basic pot throwing last year, so I am keen to explore how my illustrations and ceramics can work together.

AND FINALLY... I am still young and am yet to learn about so much from self-promotion, being selfemployed and building a name for myself. I aim to use the next 18 months or so to experience as much as I can, hopefully work within a creative environment, join the AOI to talk to and learn from a variety of working practitioners and most importantly – keep drawing and creating.


Annukka, S. 1. Sanna Annukka Postcards. (2012). [online image].


Brewerton, J. 7. Jan Brewerton ‘The Garden’. (2014) [online image].

Available: Available: ish-illustrator-sanna-annukka/sanna-annukphp?pageID=4&portfID=49 ka-1973-postcards/

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Available: pin/565131453214577964/ [Accessed: April 2015]

Haugomat, T. 4. Tom Haugomat illustration. (2014) [online image].


[Accessed: April 2015]

[Accessed: April 2015]

Brewerton, J. 8. Jan Brewerton ‘Peas in a Pod’. (2014) [online image].

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Kisonen, L. 11. Leena Kisonen ‘Keitiössa’.



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(2009) [online image].

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Marimekko. 10. Marimekko ceramic collection.

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[Accessed: April 2015]

[Accessed: April 2015]

Metsola, A. 12. Aino-Maija Metsola design.



(2015) [online image].

[Accessed: April 2015]


(2015) [online image].


Portillo, J. 5. Josie Portillo illustration.

Aandersson. 8. Aandersson ceramics. Available: [Accessed: April 2015]

(2014) [online image].

Annukka, S. 6. Sanna Annukka book illustration.




(2012) [online image].

[Accessedd: April 2015]


unknown. 9. Polish paper-cut design.

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(n.d) [online image].

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Available: https://alisalahti.files.wordpress.

(2014) [online image].

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[Accessed: April 2015]

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Moore, H. 5. Skinny LaMinx print.



(2010) [online image].


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Available: [Accessed: April 2015]

Girard, A. 2. Alexander Girard print. (n.d) [online image].

Available: pin/565131453216249706/ [Accessed: April 15]

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Available: pin/152700243589938444/ [Accessed: April 2015]

(2010) [online image].

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Negley, K. 13. Keith Negley print. (2014) [online image].

Available: pin/565131453212873401/

[Accessed: April 2015-04-17] Turner, V. 14. Vicki Turner print. (n.d) [online image].

Available: vicki-turner/

[Accessed: April 2015]

Professional Practice  

Professional Practice by Maisie Parkes

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