If you've been paying attention to my blogging advent calendar you will have seen that on December 10th I have a guest post who I'll be interviewing. In the mean time here's a part interview with myself/part FAQ of me and my business for those who don't know me!
1. Who are you for those who don't know you?
My name is Gwennan Rees and I embody Gwennan Rees Illustration. I graduated from Glyndwr University in Wrexham this year with a upper second class degree in Illustration, Children's Publishing & Graphic Novels and I have been a freelance illustrator and blogger for 6 months since leaving.
2. Describe your illustration style.
My style has evolved a lot over the past few years and is currently a very stylised, cartoony, colourful style. I mainly work with characters, be it people or anthropomorphism with animals and all tend to have big round heads with big round eyes and thin long limbs. I rarely work with a limited colour palette, my work is normally very colourful and very bright and eye catching. I nearly always use a front on view in my work and prefer to work to a square format on A4 paper than anything else.
3. What materials do you use/ what is your working process?
I have written a blog post about how I work which you can read
. I tend to start with very rough sketches, simple circles, squares and basic mapping out of characters in blue coloured pencil. I then work on more detailed pencil work with a
grey pencil onto plain copy paper. I then scan the pencil work onto my computer through my printer and begin to edit it on Photoshop. I use the channel mixer to edit out the scrappy blue linework and keep the Palomino Blackwing illustration. I colour my work on Photoshop using multiple layers, brushes and tones and I always add a highlight and a shadow. Dependant on the job I might add some background in the post edit or add some texture into the image before sending.
4. What 3 things could you not work without?
My iMac or my Macbook pro. All my work is scanned and post edited on the computer, I literally could not function without one of them.
Stationary. I make lists, notes, memos, write down blog ideas, do my finances, quotes, invoices etc etc etc etc in notebooks, sticky notes, scrap bits of paper and diaries. My stationary collection is ever growing and I'm not complaining.
Distractions! I CANNOT work in a silent room with nothing else going on. I have to have music, the radio, tv, iPad, something going on so I'm not left to my own devices which will leave me procrastinating and day dreaming and leaving the work unfinished. I can sit in front of a film and work without even looking at the screen and be able to tell you exactly what went on!
5. Why did you start illustrating? Who inspired you?
I knew since I was old enough to hold a crayon that I wanted to be 'an artist' when I grew up and it was only when I started reading books myself that I found out drawing the pictures in storybooks was an actual job and then BAM that was it. I never wanted to be anything else and I worked from that moment to achieve my dream.
I would attribute my desire to be an illustrator and the development of my illustration style to
, illustrator of (among many other things) the
books. I had all of these books when I was younger and religiously bought the new one every time it wad published and it was Nick Sharratt's unique style that I copied when I was a child that taught me to draw characters and to draw well.
I also give my grandfather the credit for developing my talent of drawing as he was the one who taught me to colour within the lines when I was a toddler!
6. How did you find being an illustration student?
I really enjoyed my time in university and especially loved my Foundation Studies course but being an illustration student or the student of any creative industry is difficult. It is a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication and not a lot like any other university course. I'm not sure I realised the commitment you make to undertaking a course like that and how small the minority is of people that get a job in their chosen design field.
7. How did you find New Designers?
I wrote a whole week's worth of blog posts when I went to New Designers Show in London in July which you can find
! I enjoyed my time there but I think it was more about the people I spent it with, the weather, the fun we had and the new friends I made rather than the show itself. Coming from a small university which nobody had heard of meant we were often overlooked and for the price we paid to be there, I think students need to really consider their decision to go.
8. What have you been working on since you finished university?
I left university in May 2015 and moved back home with my parents in June. I set up as a freelance illustrator almost immediately and set up my name as a company and became self employed. Since then I have been developing my company, doing a LOT of finances and forms and working. Setting up a business takes a lot of money initially but I have done alright financially on what I have worked on so far. As well as developing my brand and my blog I have had a range of jobs and commissions which at first (and most recently) was made up of bulk orders of personalised Christmas cards but I also secured pitches for work with graphic designers, a website and social media job and jobs with businesses for a range of work.
9. Do you have any advice for creative industry students or illustrators starting up as freelance?
I wrote a post for creative industry students on what they can expect which you can read
For those hoping to leave university and start up as a freelancer almost immediately I would suggest thinking about it very carefully. It is very very difficult and a lot of hard work and definitely not for the faint hearted. You need a lot of support at home from your parents or partner or whoever because you DO NOT make money right away, in fact you loose money when you start up because of the outgoings versus securing paid jobs. If you have a lot of bills to pay, rent to meet, cars to run, food to buy, you probably aren't going to have enough income to do all of that. If you can move back in with someone for a little while to get you on your way, definitely do, you need as little financial commitment as you can.
Also whilst you are at university if you are lucky enough to have enough student loan to save a few pennies, save as many pounds as you can. You need some kind of float or savings to start up because of the initial costs.
10. What are your greatest achievements?
With regards to my work my biggest achievement was probably getting an A* in Art & Design at A Level because I was told during a parents evening that I probably wouldn't get higher than a B and that art 'didn't come naturally' to me.
After that me A* in GCSE, my Distinction at Foundation and my degree were all pretty big moments for me. Winning the Randolph Caldecott prize for Children's Book Illustration was also a biggie.
Outside of my work getting a C at GCSE Maths was the one thing I worked hardest for because I found it so difficult and passing my driving test first time last week was a good moment.
11. When you're not illustrating what are you doing?
Blogging! My life at the moment has a pretty regular schedule and it is pretty full on. On a Monday & Wednesday I babysit my niece which basically rules out the entire day to entertaining madam. Every other day I am working on jobs or am doing something to do with the business whether it be blogging, financing, emails or my ongoing job running Llantwit Major Horticultural Society website and social media accounts. I almost consider blogging my hobby not my second job and I tend to do it in the evenings in front of the TV when I've finished working.
12. If you didn't become an illustrator what do you think you would have done?
I really enjoyed History when I was in school doing my GCSE's and my A Levels so I'd probably liked to have done something with that whether it be archaeology like my brother or maybe a museum curator role.
Failing that, I'd have gone wildly off and worked with kids or with animals maybe in a nursery or a zoo.
13. How do you keep yourself motivated and busy?
Keeping yourself motivated and keeping working when you work freelance from home is the biggest challenge. There is so much else you can be doing at home other than working and it is so easy to suddenly find you've been just sitting at your desk not doing anything for 219382948209374 minutes. I tend to get up a bit earlier and get all the boring jobs like cleaning, washing and cooking done first so I'm not thinking about what else I could be doing about the house. I also (this might be a niche one) have my desk facing the wall. The wall is filled with pictures and quotes and nice little nick nacks to look at but having my back to the rest of the room means I'm not looking about finding something else to do. I tend to surround myself with all the things I might need for the day too so I'm not getting up and wandering about so I have the house phone, my mobile, snacks, drinks and chargers all about me.
Keeping busy is a bit easier. Even if I have no paid jobs on I am always on the look out for the next one, marketing and searching for work. If there is a particularly sparse patch of work I have a list of ideas and plans I have for my own work so I always have something to do, even if it's just for self promotion purposes.
14. Have you got any work for the new year?
At the moment, apart from my ongoing job with Llantwit Major Horticultural Society I don't have any paid jobs lined up for early 2016. However, with my own projects I am planning on
finishing my blogger themed alphabet which I have had lined up for months now and I want to create a line of niche greetings cards aimed at men.
15. What do you hope to achieve in 2016?
I have handily written a blog post just yesterday on my hopes and plans for the new year which you can read
16. Have you got any NYE resolutions?
I am currently working on a list of new years resolutions for 2016 which I plan to post on the website closer to January first so no spoilers!
17. If you had to invite 3 people (famous or otherwise) to a dinner party who would it be and why?
Khloe, Kourtney and Kim Kardashian. I
people hate them, I
I could pick someone a bit more inspirational and earth shattering and I
I'll probs loose a follower or two but they would just be so fun! I used to detest KUWTK but after 3 years of university I am converted. I think they know exactly who and what they are and they've built an empire from nothing and they're just bloody hilarious. Plus if they hosted the next dinner party I'd have a Insta grid full of on fleek table decorations and I might meet the extended fam and who doesn't love a bit of Scott Disick.
18. If your life was made into a film who would play you?
I don't watch the soap but the comparison has been made between me and
so probably her!
19. What was the last photo you took?
The last photo on my camera roll I didn't take myself but is a photo of me on a quadbike that my other half's family own feeding their pigs all ready for a hilarious 'Quad Goals' play on words. Too witty.
The last photo I took myself was a photo of my Christmas wreath on my brand new front door!
20. If you were on desert island discs what 8 albums would you take?
because it's so mellow and chilled out and there ain't a bad song on there.
- any really but maaaaayyyybe Save Rock & Roll over any others because during the past year I rekindled my love of FOB and haven't looked back since.
because who doesn't love a bit of Swifty for a pop anthem and a bit of a dance.
because THAT voice! -inset praising hands emoji here-
because Love On Top is a belter and the rest ain't half bad either.
because every song is work or genius and it features lyrics from John Cooper Clarke. Need I say more.
because he might be the Marmite of the music world but Gold Digger is a TUNE.
because it still astounds me that two people alone can make THAT much noise.
Check back in on the 10th to see my guest post interview with