An editor needs a cartoon for a newspaper article. An art director needs illustration for a magazine feature. A business needs an illustrated logo for its website. A publisher needs illustrations for an English language textbook. A hotel needs an illustrated map for its website. A toy company needs child friendly packaging design. A company needs an illustrated backdrop on its exhibition stand. To locate the right man or woman for the job, they will be looking for a freelance artist or freelance illustrator. It would be very unusual for a company to fully employ a graphic artist.
The first task is to view various freelance artists' illustration portfolios to see whose style will suit the planned project. Time was when you could only view an illustrator's portfolio when it was physically sitting on your desk, with you turning its pages. In those days the freelance illustrator would jump on a train, or drive to the client's office, or maybe even courier the portfolio, or in extreme cases, put it on a flight to some other part of the world. An illustration portfolio would be made up of original artworks, page proofs, tear sheets, colour photocopies, all carefully selected and mounted for the all-important presentation. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The freelance illustrator or cartoonist could spend a day or two in a city, making appointments, then hawking his or her portfolio to the offices of potential clients. Hot, thirsty work. The internet has ushered in the glorious new dispensation. Now the client can view the illustration portfolio without meeting the commercial artist, or even asking for permission to view. In fact, hundreds of potential clients around the world can be looking at your portfolio all at the same time!
It was often quite usual for the freelance illustrator to meet the client face to face or at least to get to know the sound of their voice on the telephone. In this internet age most communication between client and illustrator is through emails. A good outcome is that communication today is often more precise and concise. The most important thing for the client to get right is giving the freelance artist a clear brief. It is also sometimes essential that the illustrator is involved in brainstorming. At times Richard Deverell's clients don't know exactly what they want and need some help developing their ideas. Sometimes it becomes clear that they have not really considered their need for a designer and Richard's early training as a graphic designer in a busy London studio comes in handy.
A freelance artist needs four things to keep on top of his or her game. Talent, encouragement, good self-promotion and good health. Good health is really the priority, for without good health the artist will fall by the wayside and come to an abrupt halt. John Williams, the great screen soundtrack composer, was once asked how he could sustain such a high output of musical scores. His reply was something like, "Staying healthy is top of my list". The looming deadline, striving to make this illustration better than the last, spending just a bit too long on the job that you really enjoy. These can all take their toll if the illustrator doesn't take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One of Charles Dickens' illustrators Robert Seymour, political cartoonist much influenced by the work of satirical caricaturist Cruikshank, eventually committed suicide, worn down by the stressful and frustrating collaboration he had with Dickens. One top cartoon artist just wouldn't stop drawing, and as a result developed permanent eyestrain, which ended a career he loved a little too much. We should learn from the mistakes of others. The great renaissance painter Raphael reputedly died age 37 from overwork! For the freelance illustrator Richard Deverell good nutrition is paramount, along with fresh air and exercise, laughter, a good social life and keeping spiritually alive.