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Friday, 13 December 2013

Interview with Laura Wood

"I started doing this work later in life.. But I wasn't happy and one day I decided to change my path because I realised I couldn't do a job where my heart wasn't there. So I allowed myself to dream again and for the first time I let my heart choose instead of my brain…" (Laura Wood)

I recently had the utmost privilege of asking three exceptionally talented Australian illustrators some questions about the industry and their own work. 

In the answering seat for my second interview is Melbourne illustrator Laura Wood. Earlier in the year while waiting for a friend at a cafe I was flicking through a magazine. I came across a striking illustration that fascinated me in the way the illustration managed to tell a story in one single frame. I took a quick picture on my iPhone making sure I could read the illustrators name. Later I went searching online to find out more about the artist behind the picture. I ended up finding Laura Woods blog and Facebook page. After following both of these for a few months one day I decided I was brave enough to write an email to her asking for advice about the industry. The advice I got was invaluable. Recently I contacted Laura again and was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed. 

ABOVE: The picture I took of the editorial illustration that led me down the path to discovering the wonderful work of Laura Wood.

First of all congratulations on your new book ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” published by Ladybird. How did you manage to become the illustrator for this new book? How long did it take to illustrate?

I was lucky enough to work with Ladybird Books thanks to my agency, Good Illustration. When they offered me the gig, I was happy to accept the job, which was also my very first book project. 
From start to finish, it took me a couple of months, but not as a full time job.. in the meantime I was doing doing other work and finishing my diploma. 

You are a member of Illustrators Australia – a not for profit community of illustrators that includes access to events and online portfolio sharing. How does an organization such as Illustrators Australia assist you in your career?
For a freelance illustrator like me, Illustrators Australia is a good reference point able to provide support and exposure. 
Also, being involved in such community is a great opportunity to meet other people that share the same passion for illustration. 
Does having an illustration agent greatly assist you in helping you find work? And if so, do you have any advice on how to approach illustration agencies for representation?
So far, having an agent for me has meant getting work and recognition from bigger and more prestigious clients. 
However, I think it's still essential for me to keep promoting and actively looking for work by myself.
To approach an agent, I would recommend to send a quick and polite email with a link to your online portfolio explaining the reasons while you're contacting them. If they think you two could work together, they will contact you back!

Where do you think the main opportunities for emerging illustrators lie? Is it a matter of creating your own work or do you think collaboration is key?
For me it's all about creating my own work. But everyone is different and what works for me it might not work for someone else. 
So I believe the main opportunities lie in the things we find more comfortable doing. 
Within the world of design agencies are illustrators sourced regularly or is this usually an in-house job?
Mmm... not really sure. I haven't had lot of experience with design agencies so I can't really say. 
ABOVE: Illustration by Laura Wood while she was still studying. 

How did you start your own illustration career? What drew you to this as something you wanted to do for work?
I started doing this work later in life, after already having started a career in a completely different job. 
But I wasn't happy and one day I decided to change my path because I realised I couldn't do a job where my heart wasn't there. 
So I allowed myself to dream again and for the first time I let my heart choose instead of my brain...
What challenges do you think Illustrators face in a contemporary market place?
One of the challenges is for sure the fact that it's often not easy to get the economical recognition our work deserve. This is often because clients don't know how the our industry work and how much our work is worth.
Also freelancers have to face the challenge of running a business. This means they need to deal with tasks other than drawing and illustrating, such as managing money and marketing. 
Do you think the digital age has made it easier for illustrators to get their work out there?
Yes, absolutely. I truly believe thru the internet we have now the possibility to put our work under the eyes of creative directors all over the world in matter of seconds and without spending a cent. 
I think it's fantastic. 
What do you think the future of illustrative print publications might be? Is it a shrinking medium due to the computer age or do you think that printed works are in fact becoming more treasured pieces?
I'm not an expert on the matter, so I can't really predict what is going to happen in 10 or 50 years about print publications. 
However I think books and print products will always keep a place in our lives, no matter how digitalised we get. 
My hope is that the digital market and the print publications would coexist and be two different and complementary possibilities for illustrators. 

The above illustrations are from a brand new interactive app illustrated by Laura Wood "The Three Bears and Goldilocks" available via iTunes. 

To follow Laura's journey and to get updates on all her amazing work and projects check out her blog: Laura Wood's Blog or her web page: Laura Wood Illustration

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