27th February, 2013 at 7:00pm
You Can Now Illustrate
| Shoreditch House — Free

On Wednesday 27th February, we hosted the third in our series of You Can Now talks at Shoreditch House.

The event, saw three guest speakers who work with illustration on a daily basis share an insight into the industry.


After an introduction from Kezia Clark and Tim Higgs of the YCN Talent Agency team, illustrator Pâté a.k.a Paul Pateman took to the stage. Paul discussed his work and influences, beginning with the hallucinogenic compositions he created as a child. Paul recounted how he would repeatedly use felt tip pens to eliminate any overlapping lines, and even laminate his drawings in an effort to emulate the look and feel of his favourite comic books.

Paul proceeded to talk about his move into advertising, showcasing some of the projects he worked during stints at agencies such as AMV BBDO and TBWA London. It was at AMV BBDO where he discovered Adobe Illustrator. Teaching himself how to work with vectors, Paul developed a signature style heavily featuring humour, symmetry and typography. He applied this approach to a campaign for the V&A Museum of Childhood, an account he secured for the agency himself.

Paul then shared some insights into his working process, showing how each of his vector-based illustrations begins as a pencil rough in a sketchbook before being sculpted in Illustrator. He showed how this process applied to a personal project featuring illustrated letterforms, which led directly to Paul being commissioned to illustrate a nationwide campaign for Aviva.

Paul concluded his talk by stressing how important it is for an illustrator to fight their corner, no matter how many challenges you might face from the client.

Next up was BBH London’s Print Producer Aine Donovan. Aine began by outlining her responsibilities, which include introducing new talent to the agency and commissioning illustrators and photographers for commercial projects. To date, she has worked on projects for a variety of clients from Christie's auction house to The Guardian.

Whilst the offices of BBH London were undergoing some major refurbishments recently, Aine commissioned 30 illustrators to add a splash of colour to the otherwise uninspiring white hoardings obscuring the construction work. Artists such as Toby Triumph, James Joyce, Crispin Finn, Neasden Control Centre, Louisa Gray, Ian Stevenson, This Is Rude and Evelin Kasikov were all invited to decorate areas of the building. Aine believed that this project not only brightened up the place, but also provided her colleagues with an understanding of how illustration happens and what it can do.

Aine went on to discuss how she worked alongside AMV BBDO's Head of Art Buying Mary Martin on a campaign for The Economist. She took us through the project from conception to execution, demonstrating how even the roughest of sketches can become a fresh, involving and enticing campaign.

Next we learned about a project Aine had worked on for Doritos during her time at AMV BBDO, which served as a light-hearted contrast to the serious tone of The Economist campaign. The Doritos job also served as an illustration of how clients can sometimes be a little unrealistic in terms of deadlines, requiring a producer to often be flexible and able to think on their feet.

Finally, Aine mentioned how she sets aside half an hour a day to look at the portfolios of illustrators that have contacted her, and concluded her talk by offering some advice to any aspiring illustrators who wish to get their work seen by art buyers and producers. She said that one email is enough (never bombard people with messages or phone calls) and that people are more inclined to hang on to tactile, handmade things they receive in the post as opposed to the odd business card.

Our final speaker was Owen Gildersleeve, a London-based illustrator who works with hand crafted paper designs. Owen discussed his career so far, beginning as part of the Evening Tweed collective at the University of Brighton. Through the group’s website, he was commissioned by The New York Times to create an illustration for an article about George W. Bush’s most infamous public speaking gaffes. Constructed from wires, the piece was photographed using natural light on Owen’s kitchen table. And whilst the production values may have improved, Owen maintained that the DIY ethic is still very much present within his work.

Owen went on to talk about his career as a freelancer, showcasing projects he has worked on for clients including the Royal Mail and Computer Arts. From here, Owen discussed how important collaboration is to his work, saying how he enjoys seeing a fresh approach to projects from the photographers and set designers he works with. One such piece was a film for online fashion store Motilo, which saw Owen collaborate with his Evening Tweed cohort Thomas Forsyth and director Ryan Hopkinson to construct a life-size replica of the website.

As a winner of an ADC Young Guns award, Owen concluded his talk by discussing how important professional awards are to a practitioner’s creative development, and urging our guests to enter the newly launched YCN Professional Awards.

All of our guests received a special achievement patch to commemorate the talk, which can also be bought here.

Join YCN today to find out more about other talks and events we will be hosting in the future.

Event Details
  • Location:
    Shoreditch House Library,
    Ebor Street,
    London, E1 6AW,
    United Kingdom
  • Start:
    27th February, 2013 at 7:00pm
  • End:
    27th February, 2013 at 8:30pm

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