New commission for Printweek

Printweek illustration by Lindsey SpinksI had so much fun designing the little details for this commission for Printweek. The brief was to create a cover illustration for their packaging & labels report using personalised packaging that was currently on the market but adapting the packaging so there were no visible brand on show. I love detail so this was such a joy to create. Here’s some of my favourite little drawings from the piece…Printweek details

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Confessions of an illustrator: 3 things I’ve learnt in 3 years

Hello! Hope you’re having a great week! I’m busy working on a book cover this week and finishing up some sketches for the cookbook project. I have a few recent commissions that I’ll be able to share with you soon but for now I thought I would talk about a few of the things I’ve learnt about working as an illustrator.

I graduated in June 2010 and was taken on by The Artworks in 2011 and I’ve been freelancing as an illustrator since then. I’ve made lots of mistakes, bad drawings, good drawings (I hope!) worked on some exciting commissions, some not as exciting and learnt a lot about being self employed and being an illustrator. Here are 3 things I’ve learnt in 3 years…My first illustration commissions1. People will tell you that it takes time to get your career going in the illustration industry. Believe them and be patient.

I’m definitely not the most patient person by any means, in fact I would go on to say I’m pretty impatient. This can be a bad enough trait anyway but speaking with that aside being impatient as an illustrator can also make you feel disheartened. When I first started out I wanted to be working on commissions straight away for amazing clients and I didn’t really understand that in a way you have to earn that privilege. A lot of advice out there suggests to start with trade magazines and smaller publications and I think this is a good way to get your foot in the door and get you started with making things and working for commercial clients. Working on a commercial brief is different to a uni project for many reasons but the main one is probably the pressure that it is going to be published (hopefully!) Above are a few of my first commissions. The top one was for Annabelle Magazine and the illustration below it was commissioned by The Sunday telegraph magazine.

Another factor can be outside pressure because when people within the industry tell you it will take time you can put your faith in them and you trust them because they understand how it works. Family and friends sometimes don’t really get it and can start to get worried on your behalf and try to encourage you to take various other routes. All I can say is if you really want to be an illustrator don’t allow any negative thoughts to encourage how you feel and keep going. Make little steps in the right direction. You might feel better to set your own guidelines of how long you want to pursue illustration for but personally I believe that if you want something bad enough you’ll get it no matter if it’s many years down the line it will happen. Having said that it might not take you years and years, everybody is different!Personal work by Lindsey SpinksPersonal work Lindsey Spinks2.  Self initiated work is what keeps you going.

It can be hard to find the time to work on self initiated projects when you’re busy working on commissions but I think it’s one of the most valuable things you can do to push your work forward and keep you feeling creative. A lot of my commercial commissions have come about through clients seeing the personal work I created, some of my examples are above. When I first joined The Artworks they encouraged me and inspired me to work on lots of new work to strengthen my portfolio and I loved creating this work and it was a really productive, happy time. A while ago I worked on a more unusual illustration project that wasn’t, let’s say my ideal project in terms of subject matter but alongside slightly stranger projects like that it’s important to keep your own ideas flowing so it’s an ideal time to start a new project just for you. This was the advice I was given at the time and I think it’s such good advice.

3. Keep records of your finances and put aside money from every job for your tax bill at the end of the tax year.

Every job I get I’ll make a note in my finance book of the client & project, the total fee/my agents fee/my fee, the date of the jobs completion, the date I’ll be paid and a tick box to tick when I receive the money. I also use an excel spreadsheet to document this on my computer and organise it into years, this way I can see what my income is each year. I haven’t been very good at saving tax up until this point as the years leading up to this one I haven’t earn as much so I’ve managed to pay my tax in one go. This year as I’ve noticed my income going up I’ve realised that I should’ve been putting 20% of each job away in another account ready for tax. Luckily I’ve realised it now but it’s still a pain. Learn by my mistakes and just save it no matter how much you’re earning as when you’re busy working on commissions it’s not always something you keep on top of. Or is that just me?

I hope you might’ve found these lessons valuable if you are in a similar position or just starting out. Feel free to ask any questions if you have any in the comments below :)

xx

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Getting Healthy

WalkingSunshine walkHello! I took a little break from blogging last week as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with general life stuff and not really having enough hours in the day (or motivation really!) But today I’m back and I wanted to post something a bit different today. I started this blog when I was in a bit of a rut and I wanted a new creative outlet, to share things I’m learning as a freelance illustrator, learn more about photography and a place to record everyday bits. I want this blog to not only be about illustration with some life bits thrown in but also a place where I can write about what’s going on in my own life so I can look back and remember things that happened and things I felt.

With that in mind today I thought I would share something a little more personal. For the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot more about health, fitness and diet and my thoughts on it and how it fits into my everyday life. One of my goals for this month is to increase my exercise and generally move more (and to get into a healthier routine.) Since the beginning of the month I’ve been working towards this goal and so far it’s going really well.GreenmonsterHere’s a little background as to what I was doing before… I started weekly Pilates classes at the end of April (and oh my do I love it!) I also joined a gym where I was going to yoga classes once or twice a week and in July I started going to a boxing class with my best friend Scarlett. We went for two weeks and had a two week break but now we’re set into a proper routine and going once a week every week. It’s starting to become a habit. At the beginning we had to try and spur each other on when one of us inevitably wasn’t feeling up for it …I’m not gonna lie our motivation on a typically bad Wednesday may have been singing to the Rocky theme tune and eye of the tiger! Having said that there’s been a bit of a shift lately and we’ve both been loving our classes and dare I say it looking forward to them!

So this month I’ve upped my exercise regime and I’m now doing Pilates twice weekly (Mondays & Fridays,) a boxing class and a personal training session each week. I walk Elsie everyday for 45minutes to an hour, I can only dream of being as fit and energetic as her, boy that dog can run! But yes she is a dog…Walking ElsieThe things I’ve learnt so far about my new regime is I like exercising for the routine it gives to my day, it gets me out of the house into fresh air and talking to people and it gives my week structure. When I plan exercise into my day or week it’s easy to stick to because I know in advance what I’m doing and I like doing set things on set days. My body is starting to get stronger (and less achey with the more I do.) It makes me feel more motivated to eat well and drink more water.

I really enjoy exercising and I always have but I get lazy somewhere in between and it’s easy to not do things but the rewards of exercising are huge. When I think about ageing I think I want to be an oldie practicing Pilates and be able to still touch my toes when I’m 90. There are a few medical conditions that run in my family and I want to prevent them by watching my diet and exercising so I’m keeping my body and mind healthy. I’ve been adapting my diet around this too, I’ve done it before where I’ll cut out this and that and I’ve been really strict (which does work) but this time that’s not the way I want to do it. I’m re-educating myself with food and making smaller changes that will hopefully be more sustainable in the long run. Wish me luck! :)

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Diary of illustrating a cookbook part three – scheduling workload

Illustrating a cookbookHello! I’m back with my third instalment from my ‘diary of illustrating a cookbook,’ series. If you would like to read part one and two please click here.

I mentioned last month that I was in the process of illustrating the first round of sketches for the interior artwork and I was waiting upon the list of the remaining interior sketches. Right now I have completed the first set of illustrations and I’m currently making my way through the second list. The second list details 30 seasonal recipe illustrations.

Today I thought I’d share a little bit about how I schedule my work for this kind of project.  I’m mainly basing this on some things I practised on my last book project. These are the things I do to keep on top of my schedule:-

– Create a word document listing the illustrations needed and any detailed art direction. (Good for scribbling notes on top & highlighting important elements.)

– Use a whiteboard to create a chart listing all illustrations to be drawn, whether they’ve been scanned, emailed to client and what stage they are at: rough/final. Additional column for client feedback. I also sometimes create an excel spreadsheet for this too which is helpful as you can send a copy to the client to communicate progress.

– Count down from deadline with number of days compared to number of illustrations. I find this really helpful because you can break it down to see how many illustrations you need to complete each day to stay on top of your workload.

– Set a timer. I find this a useful way to keep a strict schedule (I don’t always do this, usually it’s when I’m a bit unfocused and need to really crack down.) I’ll set my alarm for every hour and make a list of illustrations for each time slot and when the hours over I’ll start the next illustration whether or not the previous drawing is finished. At the end of my list I’ll go back to the unfinished drawings which I find easier to add the finishing tweaks to rather than start the drawing from scratch.

– To stay on top of my schedule and to stay motivated I like to set up some background distraction. If I’m doing the same thing for a number of hours I need to have an outside distraction to keep me going and working productively. I’ve found putting a television series on in the background (that I’ve watched a couple of times before) really helpful to get me sucked into a story but also focused on my drawing. I also like audiobooks and podcasts but a TV series is good as it lasts longer so it’ll last the project with me.

What are your tips for keeping on top of your schedule? I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

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Healthy vegan banana bread

Vegan banana breadRecently I had some bananas that were over ripe and when that happens I usually make banana bread. As I’m on a bit of a health kick I wanted to try and make a healthier alternative to my usual recipe. I went to my local health food shop last week and picked up a few things needed for other recipes so I decided to try some of my new ingredients in this recipe. This was the first time I used coconut sugar/oil and rice syrup. This bread is perfect with a cup of black coffee or tea for a sweet treat but it’s also healthy enough to have for breakfast! Probably without the chocolate though! :)vegan sweet breadFor the banana bread you will need:

  • 225g rolled oats
  • 3 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • x2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large overripe bananas
  • x2 tbsp organic coconut oil
  • x1 tbsp Rice syrup
  • 50g Walnuts
  • Optional vegan dark chocolate for drizzling

Healthy baking ingredients
First pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Next make your flour. Place the rolled oats in a food processor and whizz until the texture changes from coarse to a more powder flour-like consistency.

Mash the peeled bananas with a fork and add the oil and sugar. I used coconut oil which is naturally saturated and free from trans-fatty acids and coconut sugar which is unrefined sugar and made from the nectar of the coconut palm blossoms. (Both available in health food shops.)

Add the oat flour, baking powder and cinnamon and combine well. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Bake in a greased tin (I greased my tin with coconut oil) for 20 minutes. Then cover with foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or so. I kept checking mine with a skewer until it came out clean.Recipes from the chaletAllow to cool and drizzle with some melted dairy-free dark chocolate. You could easily skip the chocolate, I had some vegan chocolate and I’ve never tried it before so I was curious. If you didn’t use the chocolate the bread would be completely refined-sugar free. The bread is pretty sweet so you could also probably omit the rice syrup which I might do next time. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out but it’s way better than I expected and I’m really chuffed with it. If you decide to make it, let me know what you think!Baking healthy banana bread

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My first pencil business trip

Me & the Ultibro bookI mentioned a couple of weeks back that I was working on an exciting project involving a giant sketchbook and travelling to Munich so today I wanted to share my experience and some photo’s of the event. I had such a great time working with the team at Make believe on this project, it was challenging, scary and exhilarating at the same time. I’ve never tackled a live drawing before (besides the odd bit of location drawing) so it was a bit nerve wracking knowing that I would be drawing with a potential audience. I was also using fine line pens, a medium I really like but again, rarely use. There was no room for error in making mistakes on this one!Me drawingGiant sketchbookThe concept was a really interesting one… the giant sketchbook (and it’s 60kg of paper!) has travelled the world visiting America, Spain, France, Norway, Slovenia and more collecting stories on its’ travels. I worked with Make Believe (a story telling agency) who worked for Novartis a drug company to tell various stories all relating to a new drug called Ultibro that Novartis launched last year.

My task was to create an illustration involving lots of little stories of patients suffering with COPD and their dreams following either using an Ultibro inhaler or after using it. The team had travelled to Spain a few months previous to collect the stories. This illustration was drawn during the ERS international conference.Me drawing upside downDreaming of unchained livingI travelled to Munich on the Thursday and Friday was the day for drawing. I started at 8:30 and finished at 4:30 so it was a fun-filled day of drawing. I had a little area next to some woodcuts that Make Believe had also commissioned  for the project. There was a bit of concern on the Thursday night when we realised that reaching the top of the sketchbook would be a challenge with my little legs so I had a box to stand on for most of the day and a stool that I also used to sit,stand, squat & try my best to not fall onto the sketchbook! You can see a bit of the drawing was also done upside down! It’s all fun & games here.Historias de EspanaI had an absolute blast working on this and I was really pleased with the outcome and that I managed to finish it even though I still retained the detail I so love when drawing. A huge thanks to everyone at Make Believe for inviting me to come along and especially Martin. It was such an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to more drawing challenges in the future!Giant Ultibro book Live drawing in MunichA coincidence that whilst I was in Germany I also got commissioned to illustrate a German book cover (one that I had just finished listening to on audiobook!) life is crazy! I hope you enjoyed looking at the pics, I’m keeping my head down this week as there’s lots of drawing to be done, hope you have a lovely week!

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My illustration survival kit

Today I thought I would share some of the things I use on a daily basis to create my illustration work. My illustration survival kit if you will :) I certainly couldn’t live without my mechanical pencil! Do you have anything you have to use while working? So here goes, here’s my illustration survival kit…Mechanical pencil1. Mechanical pencil & lead.

Ok so like I said I couldn’t live without this trusty pencil. I know I shouldn’t be so dependent on certain materials but I just think once you really like something and it works for you it’s hard to use something different. It’s safe to say I’m slightly obsessed with this pencil & I keep at least 3 containers of lead at any one time! Just in case, you know, for pencil emergencies!raspberry lemonade2. Moleskin sketchbook

Right…confession time…my name is Lindsey and I’m addicted to moleskin sketchbooks… It’s true. I’m slowly starting to wean myself off them but it’s a slow process. They are overpriced but I love their creamy smooth paper bounded together in a neat package with a helpful envelope at the back waiting for you to stuff with goodies. Some people collect stamps (if that’s still a thing…?) I collect moleskins. True fact.Computer3. iMac computer & scanner/printer .

Possibly the most crucial part of my kit & the means to deliver artwork to the client. I’m not gonna lie I’m an apple snob. It was one of the first things I bought out of uni & I’m proud I bought & paid for it with money I made by drawing. sketch to drawing4. Photoshop…

Umm I have a love/hate relationship with photoshop. Don’t get me wrong I use it everyday and it’s pretty bloody amazing. However, I’m a big advocate of handdrawn imagery and really my work has evolved to be less handdrawn with the process of using photoshop often. I honestly couldn’t live without it now though and the amount of positives far outweigh the silly cries of ‘no computer generated work!’ I always draw initially in my sketchbook but photoshop is like a trusted friend, it makes everything waay better. Sorry photoshop, I love you really.

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Pros and cons of working from home

Working from home pros and consRecently I’ve struggled with working from home. I seem to go through different cycles of really enjoying it and then times when I find it really hard. At the moment we’re in the position of saving to buy our first home so I’m not in the market for a studio away from home as it’s an outgoing that I don’t want to spend. I think because I’ve said that to myself it’s made me resent working from home a little because I feel like it’s not a choice. It is a choice though because even if I did have the money to spend I’m not sure if I would 100% spend it on a shared studio…Working from homeThe reason for this post is I thought it would be fun to start a new series on the blog documenting some of my own struggles of being a work-at-home illustrator combined with the things I love about it, tips, inspirations and ideas to make the most of it and to enjoy it. If you would like to share your own experiences, advice or suggestions for future posts please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.Working from home livelovedraw.comDo you work from home, are about to quit your job to start freelancing from home or are considering your options? Lets look at the pro’s and con’s of working from home…(I do love a good list!)

Pro’s

  • Freedom to set your own working hours & schedule
  • No long commute/pay for transport to and from work
  • Option to take breaks/lunch/doctors appointments etc. whenever you like.
  • Save money on buying lunches/coffees etc. out
  • There’s no ‘boss’ to please/answer to
  • You can wear what you like (no uniform!)
  • You can have a dog without worrying about leaving them all day
  • Fewer interruptions from colleagues
  • You can work from anywhere in the world

Con’s

  • You have to be very self disciplined and motivated as there’s no one to encourage or dictate jobs that you have to do
  • Isolation: lack of human interaction/co-workers/team playing
  • Distractions such as doing the washing up/laundry/facebook/twitter
  • All of your time is spent at home/at work
  • You will have to dedicate a space/room in your home to work
  • It’s difficult to switch off from work if you know it’s in the next room
  • Lack of outside inspiration/no one to bounce ideas off/get opinions
  • You can end up working more hours then you would if you were in an office environment

What do you think? The grass is always greener on the other side but sometimes I think it’s easy to glamorise certain aspects of jobs. I’m not saying I don’t love working from home, at times I really do. But it can also be really difficult at times too and I think it’s important to share the reality of freelancing as well as all the good stuff. My main struggle is probably lack of human interaction so I’m always trying to think of ways to get a conversation with someone into my working day, even smiling at a stranger or saying two words really makes a difference to a day where you would otherwise not have that connection. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing about things that I do and have helped me so if this is something that interests you please stop by again! Thanks for reading :)

xx

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August round up & goals for September

August-roundupGoodbye August, hello September! August is officially over which also means autumn is coming! Autumn and winter are usually my favourite seasons but this year I absolutely loved summer. I think where we live is perfect for when the sun shines and I enjoyed working outside a bit this year. I do love autumn colours though!

July went by in a bit of a blur but this month I seemed to be able to catch my breath and reflect as well as get things done. I juggled a lot of work this month and although it can be stressful at times when you have a lot on, I think I thrive during busy times and definitely feel most productive! I shared my second diary entry in part two of illustrating a cookbook, you can read it here if you like. This month I also shared a post about what I’m currently working on and some snaps from inside my studio on a Saturday when I was working. I had a portfolio meeting this month and wrote a little bit about how I prepared for it here. The best bit of writing that post was playing around with using my illustrations on top of a photo. This is something I want to do more of in the future, so fun! Talking of illustration did you see my post on my studio date with Andrea? Check it out to see some beautiful original artwork from my talented friend.

This month marked a year of living in the chalet and it was fun to document some before + after snaps of how it changed from being a pretty-much unused building to a fully functioning little home. I also documented a day in the life and shared some snippets from a typical monday in August and did a currently post of photo’s of things I got up to.

Here’s a recap of my goals for August and how they went down this month:

1. Start a new series on the blog

I half achieved this one. I tagged some posts with ‘turn that frown upside down’ and I spoke a bit about how to stop comparing yourself to others  and shared a list of 100 things to do when you feel uninspired . My aim was to start a series looking at negatives and turning them into positives like comparing yourself and feeling uninspired. I wrote a few more but I never posted them and instead shared a few more personal updates and posts. So maybe this blog will veer more towards that in the future I’m not sure.

2. Share a recipe or two on the blog

Yay! I achieved this goal. I shared two recipes this month, they were really…really simple but still fun to share and I’d like to post more in the future. I like styling the food and it’s opened up a new creative avenue that will be interesting to explore. If you missed them you can have a look here for halloumi & pomegranate summer salad recipe and here for roasted red pepper & chickpea salad.

3. Continue working on the garden

I achieved this too! Not quite to the extent that I’d hoped for but we built a little flower bed so now it’s just a case of filling it. It’s a shame I left this goal so late as now summer is pretty much over!Summer 2014Here are my goals for September:

1. Create a ‘healthier’ routine

Awhile ago I made a list of all the things I wanted to do to make my everyday routine healthier. It was things like getting up at the same time, having a lunch break, going for a walk that sort of thing. Really obvious sounding stuff but it really helped me to make good habits, some I’ve kept and others I haven’t. This month I want to get back into my healthy habits and focus on routine.

2. Increase exercise and generally move more this month

This goal goes hand in hand with the above goal. I want to up my exercise and I’ve just enrolled on a 10 week personal training program, which I start tomorrow! If I’m feeling brave I may document how it’s going on here.

3. Discover a new vegan recipe book or blog

In our small local library the vegan recipe books are really outdated so I would like to find a modern one that will inspire me to create some new plant based meals. Reading or flicking through recipe books is one of my favourite things to do.

4. Plan my website & blog re-design

I’m really excited about this one! :)

Hope you’ve had a fantastic month and are looking forward to the new month ahead! I love making goals for the upcoming month as it feels like a fresh start every month. Let’s hope September is a good one!

xx

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