Thursday, October 10, 2013

Zero2Illo Live Review


Written by Victoria Pearce

Saturday 5th October saw the second annual Zero2Illo Live, a conference held this year at Nottingham Contemporary Gallery.  Zero2Illo is the brainchild of graphic designer & illustrator Jonathan Woodward built as a supportive, active community of creative professionals to share their knowledge and experience.

I was flattered to be asked to be a speaker again, following the success of last year’s event. This time I was asked to review the portfolio/websites of three freelance illustrators live in front of the audience, offering advice on the selected illustrators work, style & website design.

Leading fashion illustrator & AOI Board member, Jacqueline Bissett, whom we have had the enormous pleasure of representing for 6 years, opened the event with her Keynote Speech. The event theme was how to build a long term sustainable career, so Jacqueline was well qualified to share her experiences, insights, advice & tips gained over the 27 years she has been freelancing. Jacqueline’s childhood was spent designing clothes for her Sindy Doll whilst listening to Blondie; this passion for drawing led her to Bourneville College of Art where she studied Fashion Design and then to Epsom where she gained a degree in Fashion Promotion. Here she learned that it was possible to make a profession from fashion illustration. With her mind focused on this path Jacqueline never looked back, her clients now include Giorgio Beverley Hills, Givenchy, Selfridges, Kurt Geiger, Thomas Sabo, Ted Baker, Moet & Chandon and Tatler magazine. Passionate in her delivery, Jacqueline recommended regular life drawing & stressed the commitment, hard work & tenacity that are necessary for success in such a competitive industry.

Keynote speech by Jacqueline Bissett
Next up was the “Strategic Planning for your Life, Career & Business’ talk by business strategist Lea Woodard. This took the form of a workshop with illustrator Joy Gosney to demonstrate the benefit of creating an OGSM, a one-page plan covering Objectives, Goals, and Strategy & Measures. Lea also recommended that illustrators differentiate between themselves & their creative output, that viewing their work as a business would help them become more objective in their planning.

Following lunch, it was my turn! I reviewed graphic designer & illustrator Fiona Gowen’s portfolio who creates illustrations for museums & public bodies. I felt she was covering a good range of subject matter from maps, architecture, animals & machinery and recommended she optimise this on her homepage, as it felt a bit tucked away in sub-portfolios & knowing how busy agents & clients are, I was concerned that it could potentially be getting lost. Secondly, illustrator Helen Nowell’s sophisticated, witty portraits of world leaders & dynamic sports personalities stood out to me, but similarly to Fiona they felt lost in her website sub-navigation. I’ve learned that there are 7 seconds to catch a client’s attention, so unless your website homepage has strong, immediate visual impact; you risk them passing you over. Finally, Milly Jackson’s portfolio ticked all the boxes in terms of visual feast. She has created pretty much a one page website which makes the viewer’s job easy. Her strong work is all upfront & confidently represents her talents in fashion illustration. I felt she could expand upon her men’s illustration, which is an under-represented area and therefore could create opportunity. Also to develop more full-length fashion figures which many commissioners will want to see.

Victoria Pearce
The next session entitled “Smarter Marketing for Illustrators” panel included illustrator & entrepreneur Alex Mathers, Jacqueline Bissett & Ross Macrae MD of Bikini Lists & sponsor of the event. Tips were shared on how to target & focus marketing activity on core clients and suggested techniques.

Alex Mathers, Jacqueline Bissett, Ross McCrae and Jonathan Woodward
Amy Taylor, spectacularly managed to make Accountancy & Tax, a subject often considered quite dry by creative types, into an interactive session with quirky props that actually succeeded in learning about the rules of tax deductibles fun!

The final speaker of the day was Claire Cheung, who is a digital platform designer with Esquire Weekly & previously at Wired. The session entitled “Animating your work – how to get started” Claire spoke of the opportunities for illustrators on digital platforms & encouraged them in terms of platforms, software & preparations.

The event was attended by emerging & established talent & so many I spoke with reported how inspirational & useful they had found it, to quote our illustrator & animator Tim Bradford:  
"I am now an illustrator with a plan! A business plan to be precise. The fantastic Zero2illo event has shown me how to get the most out of my career. With a new focus on exactly what my goals are and how to realise them, I just feel sorry for any Illustrators who missed it!"

And from Montana Forbes:  
"It really was quite exceptional and fun! The energy, spirit and genuine support provided by the organization was highly inspirational. I certainly would attend another event like this and wish there were a few more, throughout the year and in various locations. The presentations and speakers where in-depth, insightful and most importantly relevant to various forms of illustration and career stages. This in my opinion would be a vital resource for aspiring and professional illustrators alike. It’s a shame there won’t be another of its kind next year but I do hope it somehow garners enough fuel to continue, with all the success it deserves."

I was so pleased to meet our agency’s most recent recruit, James Grover – who had attended last year and as a result approached us for representation. Our entire agenting team share my enthusiasm for his highly decorative style, he already has some great clients under his belt including Zizzi Restaurant, so here’s hoping that we will enjoy future successes in partnership.

A huge thank you to Jonathan & Lea for their hard work in organizing such a positive event & I sincerely hope there will be future collaboration opportunities together.

Jacqueline Bissett and Victoria Pearce
Victoria Pearce.

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