Category Archives: FAQs

Here are the most commonly asked questions asked of me – I hope this will address most of your queries. Students – please feel free to use in your assignments – it can be a bit difficult for me to find the time to answer everyone’s questions properly! If there is something that I’ve missed, please free to contact me using the form above.

What do you see as the inspiration and purpose of your work?

Well, I guess my background is that I’ve always thought that Art shouldn’t necessarily just be confined to galleries – images are such a part of our culture that I think it is important that people who make images for design, publishing and advertising should be able to do it with the same degree of integrity & adventurousness as what we think of as ‘Fine Art’. What particularly draws me to the field of Illustration Art is that it can be very clever and inspiring – it can draw a multitude of ideas together and tell a story through (sometimes) one single image. I’d like to think that my art contributes to the never ending and ever developing narrative we have as humans… but then, on the other hand, sometimes it’s as simple as creating an image striking enough to sell a book 🙂


How much do you charge?

Ah – always the hairy question 🙂 I price my work on a job to job basis, and I I generally do not charge an hourly rate. I take the following into consideration:

• The size of the job (ie. how many images are needed?)

• The complexity of the job

• What will the illustration be used for? A once-off magazine article, or an advertising campaign?

• The size of the client

• The size of the budget

• The geographic regions it will be used in

• I usually quote on a one time usage, or licencing for a limited amount of time (ie. 12 – 36 months) .

Please seek advice before entering into full copyright transfer agreements; handy sources of information can be found in the Graphic Artists Guild handbook

How long do you take?

The time taken to complete a job varies widely depending on the size of the job, the deadline and, to a lesser extent, the budget. It is quite common for me to receive a call from a magazine art director on Tuesday requiring artwork by Thursday. It’s not ideal, but certainly do-able, as long as there are no problems at the rough sketch stage. Otherwise, I would love to have a week or two to complete editorial / advertising work. Book illustrations tend to take longer as the projects are generally more involved.

Which mediums do you use?

Generally I use acrylics on paper or wood which I then scan and adjust in Photoshop. When I first began I also incorporated a lot of collage – cut up magazines rubbed back to create a textured solid colour, photocopies, found objects etc. I still like to use unusual materials, objects and textures – digital photography and scanning has greatly expanded my ability to do this, and ensures the accurate reproduction of the work (objects no longer fall off the artwork on the way to the photographer!). Though I work in a stylised manner I’ve not been able to go down the slick vector path of digital imagery – I prefer to keep a warmth and "human touch" to my work, keeping textures, brush strokes, mistakes and scribbles.

Any advice for a newbie?

1. Never trust a celebrity publisher!

2. Be mindful of what you would like to achieve for yourself, and for your industry, in the long term. It’s very tempting to agree to unfavourable agreements / budgets, but if everyone keeps agreeing to do cheap work that’s all we’re going to get. I did a couple of children’s books for a flat fee fairly early on, in the hope that it would get me similar work in the future. It didn’t, and the books are still listed on internet bookseller lists 12 years later.
3. Be professional, reasonable, reliable, communicative and approachable.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as early as possible to avoid the inevitable misunderstandings later on.
5. Don’t take negative feedback personally.
6. Don’t expect a regular income.
7. Keep your personal projects going as much as possible.
8. Get a website.
9. Make sure people can contact you easily, and keep your details up to date.
10. If you’re feeling isolated, think about joining Illustrators Australia and help build a community

What are your favourite subjects?

I have to admit I’;m at my best when I’m incorporating a human element into my work, but I do like to take it beyond the literal into something a bit more poetic ar symbolic.However a lot of the work I’;m commissioned to do nowadays is pretty straight forward / descriptive. As a result I’ve been setting myself new challenges and have become more consciously realistic in my drawing. My original aim was to create a distinctive world and language through my images, but now I think I would like to see how the real world can filter through. I also like subjects that I can lend a theatrical air to, or scientific subjects where I can call upon the wonderful world of molecules. I enjoy creating characters and expressions – from sunny to downright melancholic – playing with perspective, colour, and texture. I’;m also enjoying the idea of developing my interest in fashion illustration, to have fun playing with attractive surfaces rather than torturing myself coming up with new ideas to illustrate superannuation.

Why did you become an illustrator?

When I was about four years old I drew my first picture – of a duck. I was so thrilled that it looked like how I wanted it to look, and it impressed the grown ups as well. I found myself surrounded by drawings and paintings, in magazines, on tv, on cards and books and toys – they were part of my environment, and somehow they made life more interesting. When I found that I might have a talent for drawing, I stuck at it, and through the years it was the only area in which I was encouraged (though Mr. Stott thought I might have had a good career in drama in Grade 5!). Music was the other thing that I loved, but I had absolutely no talent in that direction (though I could play a mean tune on the recorder). So I thought being an illustrator would be a good option – lots of exciting projects, the possibility to work anywhere in the world, the chance to make the world a bit more of an interesting place, the chance of one day appearing on a Corn Flakes box. How many of these things have come true? Well, I’ve managed to travel a bit (though not asd much as I would like), I’ve had a few exciting projects now and then, and a few people have said they’ve enjoyed my work, I got an interesting email from a shaman once, and I almost got to do a biscuit tin – so I haven’t done too badly. Notice however, that I haven’t mentioned money…I also enjoy working in the realms of popular culture, creating images of strong imperfect women in contrast to the manipulated images that get passed off as real photos. When I do draw perfect women, they are presented more as wistful ideals that are obviously painted, rather than anything to realistically aspire to.

How did you become an illustrator?

My original strategy was to become a graphic designer …(especially if I could work in the music industry) and then, after a few years, become an illustrator. So I went to study Graphic Design / Visual Communication at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), but unfortunately I didn’t really learn anything. The teachers were jaded and disinterested – unfortunately…it was also a strange time, technology wise. The first Apple computers began to surface en masse, and it wasn’;t until third year that I saw my first colour photocopier. We learnt typesetting and shooting bromides and finished art with roll-on wax and blue grid board…But I digress! In third year we actually had a substitute illustration teacher for a couple of months – Ron Brooks – and finally I found my direction. He opened up the possibilities of what illustration could be – well designed, poetic, intriguing…After college I spent time recuperating from a car accident and then headed off to Europe for 6 months. When I returned I was brimming full of ideas – so many, in fact, that my design folio couldn’t actually get me a job! So I launched straight into calling myself an illustrator and learning on the job. My first assignment was found through a friend of a friend who knew an editor of an Accounting magazine, and the rest is a shambolic history.

What is your working process?

After getting the initial brief – which may be anything from a vague notion to actual text – I get to thinking about the most appropriate / interesting way of tackling the topic at hand. This can be done in a couple of ways –
if time is tight, its straight to the notebook to sketch and write out word lists (an invaluable technique) for a bit of a brain storm. If there is ample time, the brain can work wonders when left to its natural devices! After an effective solution has been found, I return to the sketch book to refine my drawings and composition. I then scan these drawings and refine further in Photoshop. Occasionally I add colour at this stage, but find that usually leads to confusion – it looks finished, but clearly isn’t! I email the rough to the client, and after discussions and a possible redraw, it’s on to the finished art…Depending on the job, I generally transfer the sketch onto watercolour paper or wood, and paint the image using acrylics. When I’m happy with proceedings I then have the work scanned and put the finishing touches on in Photoshop. This allows for greater control over the final image and, conversely, greater scope for experimentation. Pressing Command Z is so much more efficient than a complete repaint!