So as part of our third year studio criteria, we have to visit as many studios as possible,meet creatives and get a taster for the industry. I managed to get myself an appointment with the Illustrators/Visualisers at Bulletproof uk! One of my favourite design studios! You may have seen or eaten the new Cadbury Marvellous Creations chocolate bar? Well they did all of that! Oddly enough that chocolate bar was my favourite anyway but when I found out Bulletproof did the design for this..I was over the Moon!
I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to meet real life working Illustrators and designers!
So I made my way up to Bulletproof on the third floor and was greeted with a massive carnival arrow pointing the way towards the front desk.Awesome! I was then greeted by Jessica who was wonderful to allow me to chew her ear about design and the only two working Illustrator/visualisers in the studio. I met these two illustrators named Chris Burge and Valerio Motta.
I began by firing them with the question on how they went about finding a job in the Industry. Chris, began working in retail, making window displays and mockups which lead him onto getting a job at JKR making mockups, this was where he was also trained up to do retouching. I think a lot of illustrators will be freelancing at some point or another as Chris did for about a year before he landed his job with Bulletproof. Valerio, didn’t go to university and started working straight away as a designer, trying to get work and also did a five day course at saint martins. He ended up with two portfolios, one design and one illustration. When approaching the job at bulletproof his illustration portfolio was better received than his design portfolio. The advice they instantly gave me was to stick to one avenue, don’t try and do a portfolio of everything, if I have style and a way of working, stick with it.
The most valuable of the talk with these guys was there advice on building a portfolio
Chris: The portfolio has to be the most important thing really, thats what people are going to see and generally they are going to look at what you’ve got and think oh thats what you do. So getting it right is important, sometimes you see a portfolio you tend to get quite pigeon holed.
I explained how we are encouraged to make our own portfolio out of something other than a black portfolio, when presented with this question they said “There’s nothing wrong with a black portfolio” I intend to try and make a portfolio my own with my own branding label of myself on the cover but nothing more as I am more invested in creating great portfolio pieces.
Valerio. Get your portfolio on Behance then you can link it to your blog.
Valerio suggested that I could possibly take up an agent but Chris also interjected that of i go down the agency route they like to see a particular style in one portfolio. They aren’t a fan of a lot of different style all culminating in one portfolio. I have made a note of this as I will have to decided wether I want to put myself out there as an illustrator and gain attention for solely for illustrational work, or head into the industry. Honestly i had no idea about agents being so specific about the work a singular illustrator would bring, so that was very interesting. They want more direction as they want to sell you as one particular thing.
Chris: There’s not many jobs doing illustration full time.
Valerio: It’s very rare.
This was completely new to me, I had no idea this was the case. This is why Valerio and Chris are employed as partial Illustrators but as visualisers, which as Jessica said ‘..added another string to their bow..”
Most illustrators tend to have another area they work in, an illustrator and designer, an illustrator and a teacher for example. You always have something else that goes with it as the sole illustration jobs are very rare in the industry.
Jessica: It depends on where you want to go, if you want to be represented by an agency for your illustrative style then thats the way to go.
The discussion about illustration in the industry was quite illuminating as I really though illustrators were employed sole for that skill but as I understand now they actually have another area of skill that accompanies with their illustration. This initially made me ponder what sidekick skill would I like to have and I liked the idea of becoming fluent in the ways of silk screen printing. I had taken along with me some of my current portfolio pieces and personal work i have been doing which Valerio asked to see. I was incredibly nervous having my work looked at by creative industry workers because to be honest these guys are my idols. I was thrilled to hear them comment on how they liked my portfolio work and the current set of portraits I have been making in my own time. I told them that I am blown my visits and such to which Valerio exclaimed saying how good it is to keep your digital profile updated. Jessica also commented that I should follow all the top design Studios and get onto linkedin.
Jessica: They are really cool, see already you have a distinguished style.
I was so flattered by this comment, theres nothing better than getting a thumbs up about your work form a working studio.
After showing them my work we began discussing the digital side of design and how I need to start learning a much as possible because the way of design today has become one with digital. I know this is a weakness of mine but I am dedicating a lot of my money and time into getting the software and learning through play and failure. They recommended to watch tutorials and read guides on how to work photoshop and illustrator. They explained that my work would be amplified if uploaded into photoshop and played around with and that the key is to relax when working with something new for the first time.
Jessica also explained to me that the amount of time I get on briefs is drastically different to the industry. We get weeks on one single project and live industry briefs can be two days long till the deadline. Jessica suggested that doing quick briefs will prepare you for the pace of the industry as it is very fast. She said many students coming from university find this the biggest learning curve. I’ve since been setting myself a brief to finish a certain area of my brief within a day , this will aid in self improvement as I’ll discover where I need to improve in my processes of design and creating.
Meeting the team at Bulletproof was an eyeopening and invaluable experience, I was meeting the brains behind the beauty and I would love to get to meet them all again in a few years time when I’m not so new to the industry. Who knows maybe I’d get a chance to work with them on a brief! What I took from this meeting was the emphasis on getting my portfolio just right, not to pigeon hole myself with it and also to make a digital portfolio. Jessica explained that a digital portfolio is like a teaser trailer to a movie, it has to be short but snappy and grabs the attention. I also have understood that i need to really focus on learning digital design.