Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


There was a time, way way back, about 25 years ago (!!) when I used to design greetings cards for a living. It was my very first freelance illustration work, straight after graduation. I was supposed to be working as a textile designer, but it was the late 1980s, and the textile industry was in deep recession.


I picked up a commission at my degree show to design a range of greetings cards. Though I didn't realise it quite then, a die had been cast and my foray into the world of illustration had begun, leaving textiles behind forever.

The biggest problem with illustrating greetings cards was having to come up with fresh ideas for occasions that have only a limited amount of icons to bounce off. At least Christmas has quite a few (trees, Santa, stars, angels, crackers, puddings, presents, reindeer etc etc...) but Valentine's Day was the pits - how many times can you rework hearts, flowers and cuddles?! I found that going out for a walk was the best way to get my brain kick-started - there's something about movement that works...

Though it was often like pulling teeth, I learned a lot doing those cards. They taught me about the constrains of commercialism and about communicating an idea through a single image. I also learned how to manage my time and my finances (vital skills for success and survival) which all paved the way for the work that was to follow.

Neither of these illustrations are actual card designs by the way. The first is a pastel illustration from the final page of Kangaroo's Cancan Cafe. The other is a piece I did for Illustration Friday, for the theme 'Worn' (leaning heavily on Ronald Searle, a favourite of mine from the past). It's a pen and ink drawing, coloured digitally in Corel Painter.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello,I really want to be novelist and i was wondering if you would be kind enough to take a peek at my Art and see if you think im heading in the right direction.
Thanks Luke .

www.squidoo.com/tilleysworld

Jessie said...

I love Ronald Searle's work too! I find it fascinating how people travelled through their career to reach where they are now, thanks for this Lynne :)

Gemma Luker said...

thanks for that little insight as this story is exactly what im doing right now! And seeing how wonderful you have become gives me hope im on the right path.

Lynne Chapman said...

Jessie: His work is so funny but so well-observed! I used to copy Ronald Searle's cat illustrations when I was a schoolgorl and make them into birthday cards for my friends.

Good luck Gemma - keep at it!

Luke - I'm afraid I can't give detailed advice to individuals, as I get too many requests. Sorry!

Jack Foster said...

Hey Lynne! Happy V day to you too! Great stuff. I always enjoy stopping by for a visit.

Anonymous said...

Rather cool blog you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Sincerely yours

Lynne Chapman said...

Glad you're enjoying my ramblings - do indeed come back soon!

Mechelle Harrison said...

You are very inspiring to me. I would love to illustrate children's books some day.

Lynne Chapman said...

Thank you Mechelle! Your birds in the wonderful, colourful forest seems very 'children's book' to me.

Kinga (theSmartOne) said...

Hi Lynne,
Out of curiosity - did they give you any guidelines as for those greeting cards (i.e. we would like cute panda bears) or just let you run wild?

Lynne Chapman said...

No, clients would ask me to come up with ideas for a specific theme, then they would buy the ones they liked.

This was the big drawback to freelance card illustration (probably still the same): unlike other fields, where you are directly commissioned, my cards had to be produced on-spec, so there was a good deal of wastage.