20 January 2015

Solitary Bemusement.

Happy New Year to everyone. Hello to the new year, new work, tax returns, short days
and long nights. Those days when the fluff from your new winter jumper inevitably
ends up in your scanner and your coffee goes cold before you've had a chance to drink it.
We all know how hard it is to get going in the morning and wake our eyes up enough to
start making things happen.

What happens to our sleepy brains however when you work on your own? Or even, when
don't even leave the house to clock on? Many people have told me it sounds great. Some
days it is. Other days not so much.

I pity the poor editor or designer that rings up for a quick chat about a rough or a deadline.
Half an hour later they know all about my week, what I heard on the radio yesterday. My
agent can often put down the phone knowing all about my health, my children and
my current favourite illustrator. You see, I don't get that kind of chat at work, that
coffee in the morning to catch up with peers and colleagues before the computer gets 
cranked up. I recently spoke to a fellow illustrator who said that she had actually 
nearly lost her voice through lack of use. I can empathise. Most illustrators and authors
I know are very chatty and friendly people. After chatting to the nice man from the NHS
blood line for nearly 15 mins about the school run and the scourge of un-picked up dog
poo these days, I think that yes - often I don't talk to enough humans in day.

Yes, this is me, working away through the night.
I often wonder what the badgers think as they sometimes set off my security light.
Feeling alone with tea. Endpapers for forthcoming book 'Daddy Lions tea party' by Mark Sperring. 

This year, I will have been an illustrator for 21 years. During that time I've balanced
my life with a few part time jobs. Retail jobs mainly and I've enjoyed them all. I've
worked full time as an illustrator for just over 10 years and on reflection it's the
day to day 'chatter' of a job that I enjoyed.

Being alone on a good day.

God bless Facebook. Thanks heavens for Brillustration. There we all are, sat behind
our screens often with something to share, chat about or moan about. Brillustrators
have often saved my sanity on 'those days'. When you have a technical problem, a
publishing puzzle or simply feeling grumpy. Our meets ups and big communal draws
are a great way of feeling more human.

The internet can have a flip side though when you're feeling like an island. Speaking
for myself I have a little devil in my ear on occasion that tells me "Hmmmm. What 
you're doing is a bit rubbish isn't it". I slap him down as often as possible but 
sometimes up he pops when I'm viewing images/books/illustrations on the internet.
"Woooo look at THAT!" he says "That's soooo good. That's much better than anything 
you do.What are you doing just sat here on your own colouring in?". Irritating. Very 
tedious. However, I reckon anyone creative has sometimes felt an inner wobble of 
confidence when seeing other creative works that are out there. The internet can 
definitely inspire and motivate, but it can also bring out the worries. I think if I didn't
work on my own I would perhaps hear the devil a bit less.

Solitary gloom?

I tried having a studio out of the house about 10 years ago. It was a great place 
but it didn't work for me. I found myself having to work long hours into the night. Many
other people in the studio space went home at normal hours and was left on my own 
feeling lonely again just in a bigger room. These days, it suits me to work all 
night at the bottom of my garden in my pyjamas where I can drudge 30 seconds to the
house to flop face down into my bed eventually.

The reality is, I like working on my own. Me, my thoughts and my little fire. 
BBCiplayer and Netflix are my friends. My new years resolution is to meet 
more fellow illustrators for daytime coffee and cake, take more exercise and basically 
carry on. I'm really very lucky to work as I do. My head is often in fairylands, 
imaginative cityscapes and woodlands. How great is that? I'm sure the self-doubt devil
will keep me company once or twice this year but I'll be able to nod politely then 
send him on his way so I can get on with the business of spending quality time with
my radio and my own imagination.

I'll put the kettle on.