How To Get Editorial Illustration Work – Manchester founder Chris Madden has been changing his style of work lately. With over a decade of experience in the illustration industry behind him, he has taken a more creative approach to his craft in recent years. We caught up with him to find out what it means to be a graphic illustrator and how he developed this new style.
Chris is no stranger to turning ambition into reality. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist, but like many aspiring artists, the practicalities of achieving that dream sometimes seemed out of reach. He was in his twenties, working in retail behind bars and making flyers and merch for his friend’s band and DJ gigs in his spare time. However, these projects lacked the direction Chris was looking for, so he decided to take things more seriously.
How To Get Editorial Illustration Work
“A friend of mine enrolled on a photography course at Stockport College and told me about their graduate program,” Chris tells Creative Boom. “I thought I’d better give it a try or I’d be behind bars for the rest of my life. I graduated with honors in 2010 and have been working as a commercial illustrator ever since.
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The rest, as they say, is history. Chris has spent the past 12 years applying his skills to problem solving and time-consuming editorial illustration tasks, working on books and publishing his own prints. It’s no secret why he’s so popular, as his work, inspired by mid-century Polish posters, stands out from contemporary works.
But like his greatest inspiration and obsession, Charlie Harper, Chris’s illustrations have recently focused on shape, texture and color. Combining the aesthetics of traditional graphic techniques, he took on a new role as a graphic illustrator. We caught up with Chris to find out more about what this means and his current career.
Honestly, I can’t say how it happened. I think my university professors were very honest about the reality of the illustration industry; Not everyone is going to sign book contracts and big advertising campaigns right out of college, so they steered us toward editorial—a more accessible field of illustration.
However it happened, I enjoyed the tighter editorial deadlines, and focusing more on the importance of the idea behind the image rather than the visual style suited my process better. I still love editorial work because you learn about different topics and create images that you would never choose to do as part of a personal project.
Reading Editorial Illustration
There is nothing overly glamorous about my process; I read the summary, mark relevant passages, and jot down in the margins any initial thoughts that come up. Sometimes these initial ideas affect the possible direction of the image, so I quickly save the thumbnails in my sketchbook.
If I can’t think of anything, I usually do a little more research, sometimes I read more about it to find other avenues, but mostly my research is visual. I look for related keywords on Google Images or stock photography sites… usually it helps me connect the dots and combine one or two floating ideas into a more conceptual image.
If I’m struggling with ideas, I take a break, go for a walk, run or swim. Play video games. Organize the laundry – anything that lets my mind wander, eventually a spark will appear.
It’s great to see more illustration styles now than ten years ago, and more diversity among the creators of the works. Illustration seems to be used more and more in all areas of the creative industry, creating more opportunities. It would be nice if this desire for more illustrations was reflected in consumers’ budgets; It costs more than anything else in this country, but the fees for illustration are pretty much the same in the beginning.
Barron’s Magazine: Editorial Illustration
I think my approach to creating photos has changed and the result looks different. Early in my career, I had a lot more time to work on one short story. Even when the deadline was tight, I could focus my full attention on this one task. Now my life looks completely different; I have three young children at home, who require a lot of my time, so I am constantly balancing work and home life.
I have learned to trust my instincts and experience; I know I can make something look beautiful, so I allow myself to work faster and more efficiently without worrying about how it will turn out.
I think I use this term to describe my work because my favorite work lately has been strong shapes and bold colors. Different from my previous editorial. I am currently studying at Shillington where I am learning the basics of graphic design and retraining as a designer. Perhaps “graphic illustrator” is a stepping stone between these two roles.
Animals are one of your favorite things to draw. Which of them do you like the most and which do you like to wear the most?
Editorial Illustration: Don’t Draw Something! Draw An Idea!
I’ve always been obsessed with animals and it seemed like a way to combine my love of illustration with the animal world. I’ve never understood human anatomy, but it seems to make more sense than animals. My favorite animal to portray is a bird. Someday I would like to write a book about birds.
I think it’s the same job as any other creative job; Prepare a strong portfolio of the work you want to do and present it to people who assign this type of work. You must be prepared to expose yourself; It’s not the most forgiving field of illustration, but it can be extremely rewarding. Twelve years on and still can’t wait to see my name in print.
I’m hoping to finish my design course at Shillington and put the freelance life aside for a while to work as a designer and illustrator in an agency or studio. Until then I’ll just focus on sketching and being happy. An editorial illustrator creates illustrations for magazines and newspapers, usually printed weekly or monthly. This translates into a consistent and varied work for professional illustrators.
We’re hosting a live online workshop on becoming an editorial illustrator. During this workshop, you will be able to chat live behind the scenes with three successful editorial illustrators. You’ll see how they built their careers and learn about the success patterns that sustain their editorial illustration careers today.
Editorial Illustrations From 2018
Verónica Grech is a freelance illustrator living and working on the northwest coast of Spain. Her work is inspired by nostalgia for all kinds of mid-century illustrations and vintage black and white photography. She loves antique and archeological art, fascinated by the archaic era and first finds.
Veronica enjoys creating quirky and humorous characters, poetic portraits, and colorful cityscapes and landscapes. Her illustrations have appeared in many international media including The Boston Globe, Washington Post, New York Observer, Family Circle Magazine and Ebony.
Doug Chaika is a freelance illustrator currently based in Berlin, Germany. His clients include The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe and many others. He began freelancing in the late 1990s and landed his first editorial job at the Kansas City Star while working on picture book projects.
Doug taught illustration full-time at Ringling College of Design (2009-2010) and Savannah College of Art and Design (2010-12), as an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, City College of New York, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Academy of Illustration. .
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Beth Walrond is a freelance illustrator who works full-time on illustrations for magazines, publishers and advertisements. Originally from the UK, Beth currently lives in Berlin, Germany. Her work has appeared in dozens of major media outlets, including The International New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, Wired, and HOW Magazine.
Our three-day live online workshop will show you how to enter the diverse world of editorial illustration. You will have access to a one-hour session with each of these talented illustrators. You’ll leave with a clear plan to build your career as an editorial illustrator.
You can access the entire workshop for $67 if you register before September 2 using the discount code “Illustrationvip”.
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