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Posted on 16th october 2019 by eric team

‘New Creatives on the Block’ was a series curated for the ERIC Fest: Storytelling. Young illustrator, Jada Bruney, asked senior illustrator, Janet Kutin her burning questions. Here are the answers…

1) How did you approach growing your own business from scratch?

I had to identify what I was good at and what I wanted to achieve. For me, I felt that in order to present myself well, it needed to be under a strong brand. I’m all about the details and kind of a perfectionist, so from the beginning I made sure I at least had a name and logo. This isn’t essential, but it can be a great way to establish yourself.

Creating a personal ‘manifesto’ that I could refer back to was also important so I wouldn’t get lost. It probably won’t happen straight away but you have to know yourself and what type of artist you intend to be - and that might even change over time. I’ve been through a few different stages of figuring out my path and felt like I was always behind but it’s all part of the process.

Be serious. If you want this to be your profession, then be professional. This means how you approach people and introduce yourself. Be bold in what you do and make sure you’re known for it so you’ll always be recommended for that specific thing. It also means using legal software - getting your name/logo registered if need be and signing up as self-employed for tax purposes. Read up about it and make a list of the relevant information. It may seem expensive but it’s best to get that stuff out of the way. When you start investing in yourself, it also motivates you to do better which encourages growth.

Consistency to a certain degree is imperative but you should also cultivate a practice of stepping back and assessing your work. Learn to be okay with ‘starting again’ when needed in order to move forward.

2) What is the best way to attract paying clients?

Personal projects can do so much. It’s a chance to showcase what you’re interested in as well as what you’re capable of. This way, hopefully the right clients will contact you. Your focus and determination in doing your own thing are innovative which is appealing to others. Another way is approaching them directly and even pitching an idea. If you do this, make sure you’re actually available and can back up what you are proposing because no one likes their time wasted. Alongside this, get used to rejection. Have faith when you send out those emails but don’t expect everyone to get back to you. In my experience, it's very rare if they do but the key thing is perseverance.

The most obvious method would be ensuring you’re following the right people and pages that post jobs, commissions and opportunities. It can be a bit tedious but you never know what you may come across so be diligent. In addition to this, choose the right portfolio-type sites to be members of - your work needs to be seen.

3) How do you balance work life with self-care and play?

Get to know yourself and how you work best. I’m more creative at night but this isn’t always practical therefore I don’t always leave all my work until the end of the day. I may take a trip to the cinema in the morning then head to the library for the rest of the day because I know a film would get my artistic brain working. On the other hand, I may have a gig to go to in the evening. I’m aware of what I need to complete before I even leave the house so I don’t disappoint a client or get behind on my work. When I constantly remind myself of what I need to do, that urgency pushes me to get things done and make room for other activities separate from work. Choose wisely each morning what the goal for the day is otherwise you might end up doing nothing at all.

I think it’s important to operate from a place of rest so unless I have a strict deadline, I avoid working through tiredness because what I produce tends to be rubbish. I’ve made a general weekly schedule so I have some sort of structure. i.e. Monday is my admin day where I do the ‘boring’ stuff that doesn’t require my artistic attention because I’m probably exhausted from the weekend. Be realistic with your time management/schedule by maybe concentrating on one or two things a day. Having a never-ending to-do list can bring about anxiety.

Take sensible ‘time outs’ because it's healthy to relax but be careful it doesn’t turn into a pattern of complete disengagement from work (unless absolutely necessary). This artistic path is what you want to do so don’t treat it as a part-time job or hobby. There’s nothing like having a project drag on that you easily could have finished but got distracted by everything else. Be on the other side of constant consumption and if you don’t feel like creating, at least do some admin.

Ultimately, enjoy life and your artistic venture. Sometimes I find it very hard, especially as this can be such a lonely job but try to remember that some people don’t even get the chance to explore what they’re really passionate about so don’t take it for granted.

A bit about Janet…

As a Storyteller, her focus and passion is Illustration, Writing and Pre-Production (for Film, Animation, Music, Edutainment and Books/Editorial). She likes to demonstrate these storytelling skills by producing visuals for clients and studios in areas that she loves e.g. from traditional cartoons and hand-drawn animation to Jazz music.

A bit about Jada…

Jada Bruney is a 19 year old artist from Croydon. She is studying Graphic Communications BA at Central Saint Martins. After studying Visual Arts and Design at The BRIT School she created two illustrated books called “SLANGPHABET” to describe London slang words and “Southside Story” to investigate South London stereotypes. She freelances as a designer/artist and sells printed SLANGPHABET apparel alongside her two novels.

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