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Does this mean I can call myself an Illustrator?

January 1, 2010

Last week a friend told me how pleased she was with a blog header I had created for her. She said that it “translated my vision into something so perfect.“

I created the banner image for her way back in May 2009 – before even starting this blog. My friend has already thanked me too many times.

This last mention, however, was extremely significant. It means that I fulfilled my role as an illustrator.

As many invaluable lessons about being an illustrator were learned during this process, albeit without the pressure of a serious deadline, it should have been me doing all the thanking.

An illustrator needs to get over their own ego. Unlike a fine artist, an illustrator has to hand their creative control over to the client. Illustration is a service.

Illustrators undertake to communicate an idea within one potent image. The image needs to grab the viewer by the throat to entice them into reading the text. There needs to be sufficient information within that image to convey a message that would otherwise take hundreds of words. Illustration is a visual narrative. It must apply sound visual form to ideas. It has to sell a product.

The brief was (to be) “…done with toy houses or simple cartoonish line drawings. Across the panel there would be two house images, each next to a tree which remains the same for both. The left house is so big that you can only see a swath across the first story and the tree seems dwarfed. The house on the right is simple and shorter than the tree. The houses and trees are colored like with crayons.“ I believe I achieved that.

Parts of the image were drawn individually, as were these flowers, (barely visible in the finished image) in order to enable things to be moved around and re-sized using Adobe Fireworks. Molly, her dog, and the chair were photographs.

My friend tells me that I was able “to convey the (challenging) process of jettisoning stuff that makes possible the transition from big house to cottage” which means I’m totally tickled pink and unquestionably thankful to Joy for giving me the experience.
Update: Coincidentally, Leslie White has also written about letting go of artistic control in the name of good illustration.

  1. January 1, 2010 4:16 pm

    Well, if you don’t, then I will call you an illustrator! Because hells bells, lady, what else could you be at this point?

    Your observation about creative control is very true, and it’s also something that applies to design. It’s something I struggled with as a designer, because I found often clients requested things that actually took away from the quality of the creative product. And I used to fight them on that. But now, it’s not that I wouldn’t make recommendations that I feel would improve things, but I came to see that it’s not MY creative project. I make it for them, but the project is THEIRS, and has to meet their goals, not mine.

    I commend you on being wiser and arriving at the proper viewpoint right off the bat 😀

    I love the illustration and that you get to have your work featured somewhere and have it mentioned.

    Aaaand, HAPPY NEW YEAR! (blows into noisemaker)

    • January 1, 2010 4:40 pm

      Ack-ack! You crack me up, you do. Bet you really do own a noisemaker. Happiness, success and peace of mind to you this year my friend.

      The title will only be official once I’ve hustled and get paid work…time to get my evil plan going. *narrows eyes*

  2. January 1, 2010 4:47 pm

    Indeed you are a FINE illustrator!

    At the risk of embarrassing you with further praise, it was a pleasure having someone as open as you were to working with my initially vague vision. Each iteration of the drawing sharpened my idea of what I was trying to express. And it didn’t even take that many versions.

    What I particularly appreciated was that the illustration not only depicted the move from big house to little house, it conveyed the felling of FREEDOM I hoped to achieve.

    So, yay YOU! And Happy New Year – may it bring a passel of paying clients! (more p-words…)

    • January 1, 2010 4:57 pm

      I have yet another thankyou for YOU Joy – you gave me a blog post when I was struggling – it’s all these holidays causing too many distractions….mmmh, Christmas cake! May 2010 be a wonderful adventure for you.

  3. January 1, 2010 5:38 pm

    I am linking to you, June. I agree totally with your take on Illustrating. I like your quirky and upbeat illustration you did.

    • January 1, 2010 5:57 pm

      Just linked to your post on this as well thanks – it’s only once you actually take on a brief that you understand.

  4. January 1, 2010 8:18 pm

    Ah – an egoless illustrator – Well done June – Better not let too many clients know about this or you will be run off your feet. I love the header which conveys the positive view of the downsized life so well. All the best with this for this year. Stephen

    • January 2, 2010 1:34 pm

      Thanks Stephen, I don’t expect clients to come to me so am gearing up to building a proper website and contacting prospective clients – then I hope they do run me off my feet.

  5. January 1, 2010 9:43 pm


    Well done on the masthead for your friend. It conveys the message perfectly which means you were successful.

    What is Adobe Fireworks? Is that like a photo-shop program? Anyway, no matter what it is, YOUR illustration was a winner! Here’s to many more wonderful illustrations in the new year.

    • January 2, 2010 1:37 pm

      HELLO ARTIST: Fireworks and Photoshop are both part of the Adobe Creative Suite. Fireworks is very like Photoshop, but I found it easy to teach myself, whereas I’m about to sign up for Photoshop lessons. Just had another success – the invitations have been approved *thrilled* but you’ll have to wait for my next post 🙂 🙂

      • January 2, 2010 2:11 pm

        CONGRATULATIONS on the approval of the invitations. I anxiously await your next posting. I will be checking in often.

        • January 2, 2010 4:09 pm

          Really appreciate you taking an interest – please don’t be anxious, eager is fine.

  6. Jingle permalink
    January 2, 2010 8:45 pm

    Hello, June Malone:

    what creative work you have done, the first one is very neighborly and inviting,
    noticing that the woman is walking a dog and a cat in the beautiful neighborhood,
    it reminds me of my post for today, Dog Haiku,…

    I will add your link in my post so that your art is shared with my friends…
    lots of them recently….

    happy new year.

    see you soon.


    • January 6, 2010 8:37 am

      Happy New Year Jingle 🙂 – thanks for your comment and for putting my post URL on your funny dog haiku.

  7. January 5, 2010 8:27 pm

    I’m counting down the days until we can see your invitations. 🙂 If you post on a weekly basis that would be Friday. Don’t want you to feel pressured, but know you must have them. lol.

    • January 6, 2010 8:41 am

      Snort! :mrgreen: Yes, the invitations got the thumbs up – but now begins the long, tedious task of optimising them for printing.

  8. January 6, 2010 1:12 pm

    Hi June
    Yes of course you can call yourself an illustrator! I trained in illustration but I begin to doubt whether I could actually illustrate! I think I might not like the constraints from other people. But I guess that’s part of the challenge & you must make the choice to approach it that way.
    Anyway, well done & good luck.

    P.S. If you have a moment, read what what Sarah wrote on illustration at

    • January 7, 2010 4:20 pm

      I was so interested to learn that you trained as an illustrator. Wow! It’s not for everyone but I actually enjoy the challenge – even though I tear my hair out initially – but only because I passionately want to give the client exactly what they ask for…and more if possible. Your stunning paintings are astonishingly intricate and I’ve never seen anything like them for style. So very much appreciate what you say. Oh and I have already read that post, via Leslie White’s blog, thanks, it was most interesting.

  9. January 6, 2010 6:11 pm

    I’m catching up on you, June. I had my first drawing class yesterday and “drew” my hand. Never mind that even after an hour’s worth of sweat it looked like a five-armed octopus. Any minute I’ll be an illustrator too!

    • January 7, 2010 4:27 pm

      Bwahaha! You have to start somewhere. Classes are wonderful because you usually get to meet really great people – it’s the practise that makes for improvement. Also it’s loads of fun and I find it so exciting when I can see that I’ve made some progress. Remember – it’s not a competition, it’s just the best thing doing something creative. You should have seen my first attempts, but I won’t be showing them anyone. As Anya Galkina once said to me, “Welcome to the dark side!” *rubs hands*

  10. January 10, 2010 11:38 pm

    I find your definition of the illustrator’s role wonderfully succinct and true, “Unlike a fine artist, an illustrator has to hand their creative control over to the client. Illustration is a service.” Sometimes artists do work for others, though — great artists, I mean. The Sistine Chapel was a job, after all, and it narrated a text the Bible.

    There is an indefinable something about art that is transcendent — whether the art was made to order or sprang from a solitary imagination. And in reverse, some illustrators make art. Sometimes they fulfil all the obligations of their job, but add a certain something extra from their souls.

    You may have to recognize yourself as an artist, too. You never know ….

    • January 11, 2010 12:59 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Heh! It’s difficult getting used to giving up the control aspect – like your reference to the Sistine Chapel. I’m not sure labels are important unless one is plying for business – adding a little extra something makes all the difference.


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