Reflecting on Illustration

I knew when I applied that the MA course would challenge me, and perhaps bring me to some uncomfortable conclusions, but I didn’t expect it would happen so quickly. Maybe I’ve known for a while and this was the push I needed, or the change of method and environment in starting the MA gave me a jolt, but within the first few weeks I made the decision to move away from illustration as my primary focus. While I intend to continue taking on illustration briefs I no longer feel the need to have an entirely illustration-focused approach.

I did a Graphic Design degree, focusing on illustration, and have found myself gaining a greater appreciation for the design skills I learned as I have worked on illustration briefs. I have noticed my satisfaction as I work with type, and the sense of achievement when I create (what I consider to be) a successful layout. These are skills I know I would not have grasped in the same way if I didn’t have a background in graphic design.

As I have found myself appreciating type and layout more and more I have also begun to feel limited by building a commercial illustration career. The need for a definite style carried through the whole portfolio meant I was focusing more on style than content, and I was beginning to feel limited in what I felt my illustration could achieve. As part of my MA research I intend move forward with the subjects I explore and I just didn’t feel like I could do that with illustration alone.

I still enjoy illustrating, and I hope that creating illustrations for the love of it and not constantly with a cohesive portfolio and strict style in mind will improve my work. At the same time I am excited to experiment with different media and techniques, and explore new areas of my practice.