Well how did that happen?

First came December, now it's almost Christmas yiiiikes! 

It's been a huge year - I made the transition into illustrating full time (among other things like getting married, making stationery with my friend Kate etc). I'm crazy grateful for my family, friends, clients and YOU! If you're reading this, it means you're at least a little interested in what I do and for that I thank you! (And if you're a subscriber, you got a sneaky first look as a big thank you!)

With more interest in the illustration industry, I wanted to give some tips for aspiring illustrators that took me a while to learn - hopefully they give you a bit of a step up. 

    When I first started, I had no idea how to use Instagram (#clueless) but the little rainbow icon has been the biggest source of exposure and work for me from the beginning. Not only did it give me a platform to share my work, but allowed me to connect with other artists, brands and helped me make new friends! I would draw products, tag them to make them notice me - sometimes it work, sometimes it doesn't (don't be discouraged, just try another brand).
    There are particular brands like Marchesa who use hashtags (#marchesafanfriday) to specifically feature illustrations of their dresses, and platforms like Draw A Dot who showcase high fashion illustrators.  
    Illustration isn't a "necessity" to most people/brands and as a result, we have down time. Yeah, the financial down time sucks too (however I'd still strongly recommend against working for free) but to me, it comes with the territory of a creative business and you just have to be, well, creative to get around it. 
    You could blog (for more website traffic), create pieces to sell as passive income, or learn a new skill. This year, I dabbled in calligraphy (nibs and brush lettering) and animation - all self-taught in my downtime and as a result, it gave me skills I could incorporate into my illustrations which in turn attracted more clients. Show your value in your work. 
  3. ASK
    When I first started drawing again, it was only a side hustle and I was still working full time. Brands would approach me and I'd have to turn them down because I simply didn't have the time. So when I made the transition to full-time illustration, I was like "Awesome, now I can do all the jobs that come to me!" Radio silence. Turns out it doesn't work like that. Some people are lucky enough to always have people knocking on their doors, some people have to make the first move. Don't worry, it doesn't look desperate - you're just showing them what you can do and that you're available! Have a media kit ready with your skills and send them to those you want to work with. Make sure they align with your own brand - if you're a pet illustrator, working with a motorcycle company you love doesn't make a lot of sense. The same applies to those that approach you - I'm not claiming I've never worked with a brand I don't love (you do what you gotta do for money), but at the end of the day, do you want to be associated with that company? 
    I know, it's such a buzzword - but for a reason! Whenever I see interesting work or meet new people, I immediately think of ways to collaborate. It makes you think about your work in a new way, and can give you a new direction. If you're just starting out, it's a really good way to figure out your niche and find out what you really love working with - is it food? Find a restaurant you love and see if you can create some illustrations for them. Fashion? Find a fashion blogger you love, see if you can illustrate something for them. You end up making contacts (slash friends) that can can draw on later. 
    I'm super lucky to have a very supportive husband, family and friends. Some of these friends also happen to be creative entrepreneurs and sometimes we meet up to bitch and moan about #SmallBusinessOwnership because it can be a lonely life! For a few months this year I actually took up a casual retail job because I was sick of sitting at home by myself talking to my dog (I still talk to my dog, but that's another story). 
    My point is, you can't do it without a good support network because it can be a lonely day sitting at home drawing. Social media has helped - sharing your work on your InstaStory/Snapchat so you're not the only person looking at what you just drew and getting immediate feedback. 
    I found a beautiful friend off Instagram (Love you Nat!), another one who lives up the road (Love you Jen!) and there's a beautiful community of female entrepreneurs on Facebook (LMBDW). So they're kinda everywhere. 
  6. Sorry, one more. Just START! It took me a while to start illustrating because I was scared I wasn't good enough, worried because other people will laugh at how bad and inexperienced I am. I made mistakes when I first started, with big clients and brands, but you're only human. And you learn. If you think you can do it, and you can see other people do it, why can't you? Instagram is free - start an account and post something! Starting is starting! 

Let me know if I've missed anything - these are only the most important ones to me I can think of. 


Now to what you all came here for: FREE CHRISTMAS PHONE WALLPAPER! The last time I did wallpapers I had Samsung owners go "Um, hello! Where's mine?!" so this time there's one for Samsung Galaxy 7's!

Download them here:
iPhone 6 / iPhone 6Plus / Samsung S7

(If you're on your desktop: Right click to save, send it to your phone via Bluetooth, go through the steps to Make it your Screensaver). 

Hope you all have a BEAUTIFUL Christmas break, take care of yourself and your families and I'll see you all in the new year! 


x Bel