I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Ollie Silvester about his working process, opinions on Illustration and general arty business. Self confessed ‘soppy and fairytale-esque’ (when talking about motivation), Ollie has a unique illustrative style and humble demeanour, and currently belongs ‘to Studio Anorak, a group of illustrators affiliated with Anorak Magazine ‘. However, don’t let his cool art student aesthetic fool you, currently on the look out for the right agency, he has been commissioned by Scout Magazine, Wessex Scene, and the Cambridge Humanities Review. After finishing his degree at Winchester School of Art on the Graphic arts course he has built a strong online presence and his wealth of quirky and whimsical illustrations are exceptionally popular among current trends.
Speaking with Ollie has offered a bounty of helpful advice with regards to setting up an enterprise as a freelancer and the realities faced with self-employment. Keeping true to yourself, something that as an illustrator can be exceptionally difficult when rent comes around, ‘it can be really tempting to accept any commission that comes your way’ says Ollie, but ‘don’t be afraid to say no… it’ll pay off in the end…your image as an illustrator is very important’. Not afraid to be honest about quiet spells Ollie is currently working in retail to support his freelance work but notes that inevitably he ‘feels un-satisfied’. This offers an honest look into the practicalities of working without a regular payslip, which sheds light on the stigma of the lazy artist, artists are not lazy but constantly working towards their craft and as he phases it ‘the art zone…[where]…everything seems more interesting’ making ‘something tangible for other people to enjoy’. The truth is, a career in the creative arts – much like many things in life, takes time and commitment.
With regards to the working day Ollie says the best way to get going is ‘some breakfast’, stereotypes of caffeine and nicotine fuelled deadlines abolished, he starts with ‘some warm up sort of stuff, so some rough sketches and things’ to get the creative blood flowing. Following this the key is to ‘jump right in’, the reality of working is there aren’t hours to waste with variations of the same drawing ‘the first idea is the purest and most natural’. ‘I’ll usually work in black and white to begin with so if I need a draft approval, then I haven’t wasted my time if it needs changing’ comments Ollie, time of the essence it is important to remember that when working for clients drafting is important and without leaving room for any changes needed, time can be wasted.
Asking about agency work Ollie tells of his intentions to ‘get his act together’ and ‘relocate to somewhere … with a more thriving art scene’. Reflecting on this the importance of surroundings with relation to the creative process is crucial, creativity although found everywhere does depend on the people, the culture and the clients. Rating the use of agencies Ollie notes ‘people come looking for you, for your work and your visual language and you have someone else to negotiate fees’.
Closing the interview Ollie reflects on his method of staying motivated at early stages in his career, his method to ‘imagine [him]self at some undetermined time in the future, working in a studio…just doing various illustration stuff…and it fuels my drive to get there’. Visualising the future being a great method to help focus on the goal, stay true to the creative process you enjoy.
As Ollie, Illustration man says ‘make the most of every second and every opportunity’.
Find Ollie on his website
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