Improving reading experience
through a passion for illustration

Now, In today’s digital world, it’s difficult for readers to wade through the barrage of information being catapulted at them from every direction – fake news, click bait and spam cause e-mail inbox’s to overflow and news feeds to appear bottomless.

Consequently, it’s more important than ever to give your valuable content the support it needs to be seen and understood by your audience.

And, that’s where I come in.

“People are not going to want to
buy your album unless it’s got artwork.”
- Meechy Darko, Flatbush Zombies

Just as the great wordsmith Meechy Darko once explained, artwork can sell an album because people will be drawn in by the visual.

Whether someone is digging through record crates or scrolling through Spotify – they’ll choose to listen to an album just to see what the artwork is about.

The same applies to the editorial you break your back to create and put out.

Your target audience will stop flicking through a magazine to read an article if it has a striking visual that appeals to them.

Similarly, someone may click on a specific blog post on a page of hundreds if it’s represented by an eye-catching featured image.

Your editorial deserves to be read

Whether an article is seen or not can have a significant impact on your business. Furthermore, communicating an idea successfully to a reader may result in on-boarding new clients or gaining a new followers to your community.

Are you willing to risk missing out on new business? Or maybe you simply don’t believe your message is valuable to someone.

If you are you ready to provide your audience with a quality reading experience read on to find out what illustration can do for you.

Illustration is the solution to your problems

Illustration is multi-functional in that it possess the ability to immediately create context – it demands the attention of its viewer, making it one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

Illustration is the perfect solution whether you’re looking to tell a story, express an abstract concept or make a grand statement with your editorial.

Additionally, illustration is great for info-graphical purposes, too – it can be used to visually represent data sets, make street maps interesting or even simplify wordy explanations through ‘how-to’ diagrams.

My Story

The passion for drawing started when I was a kid.  Drawing everything that happened around me in my sketchbook was my way of documenting life and expressing everything I loved.

The vivid memories that have always stuck with me from growing up are all of the movie posters, album artwork and video game covers I’d copy and draw over and over until I got the lines tight.  And, when I had my head engrossed in the pages of a book I’d always end up drawing out what the characters and scenes would look like in my head.

As a child I never dreamed that pastime would transform into a successful business without losing my passion for it.

The short version of my success (and you can scroll down this page to read the extended story) is I focused on illustration, worked hard at it, turned up every day to improve my skills and expand my knowledge, built an audience on social media and started attracting clients who wanted to work with me to add value to their business.

I’m still growing and adding to my illustration business but I’ve found the most rewarding part is helping other people make a living at doing what they love.

The transition from enjoyable pastime to successful business doesn’t happen overnight though; and the path is never a paved, straight road.

For that reason, I’ve decided to document my journey as an illustrator and share all of the things I’m learning along the way.  My passion for helping other people make a living at what they love doing has led to me creating an archive of blog posts and case studies explaining my journey.

"Knowledge is Power" - Akala

What I’ve been working on

I’m striving to turn up everyday by sharing valuable content with my audience through my ever-growing blog, illustration portfolio and social media channels while also managing a number of client projects.

• I illustrate every day and share new illustrations and processes on Instagram and Facebook throughout the week.

• After establishing a daily writing habit in 2016, I’ve started documenting everything I’m learning about building a successful freelance illustration business via the blog on my website. You can find new content there every Wednesday.

• Whether you’re interested in building your own internet platform or attracting your first client and fulfilling the project in a professional manner – I want to share how I’ve found success with client work via my weekly blog content.

That’s the short version of what I do and where you can find me.

Now let’s dive deeper into the extended story behind the brand.

If you’re itching to start learning how you can build your freelance illustration business, check out my latest blog articles below:

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Also, I’d love to hear from you personally. I read and respond to every reply I receive to my welcome e-mail, so hit “reply” and say hi!

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Busting Myth and Forming Legend

When I was younger I hated the thought of picking something I had to do for the rest of my life. Everybody had an opinion about it too, and who was I to argue against the voice of experience?

“Pick something that has money in it’s future.” “Plan out your career path before you make any rash decisions.” “Don’t do that subject – it won’t get you anywhere.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

I got good grades at school but nothing ever really interested me there apart from playing football at break time. Stumbling through college, still playing football on free period, my plans for the future were still uncertain.

Without any real goals set I applied for university, moved 200 miles down the coast to Plymouth and graduated with a BA honours in Graphic Design. Despite meeting many great inspiring creatives, getting invaluable work experience, winning a professional design award and accumulating a significant amount of student debt; I still wasn’t sure what the future would hold for me.

Have you found yourself in that position or do you know a friend that has happened too?

A month after moving home I landed my first full-time agency role. Pumped up for a new challenge, I took my first steps in the design world. In the beginning it was exciting but after years of battling clients who couldn’t be pleased and slugging through boring briefs with endless rounds of amendments I lost my passion for design.

“All clients are like that, you’ve just got to deal with it. You’re not supposed to enjoy work anyway.”
Those were the words of my friends, family and colleagues.

But I thought that there had to be a better way. The next half a century of my life couldn’t continue like that.

Finding Success in Narrowing Focus

In a short time of dedicating my focus to one pursuit I’ve seen results I can’t argue with.

It’s scary deciding to focus on one thing. There’s a myth told to us when growing up that we have to pick something we’re going to do for the rest of our lives. I love illustration, but there’s many other things I enjoy doing too. Things that I’m going to do.

Life is made up of seasons. Just because you choose to focus on one thing now doesn’t mean you’re giving up on everything else you want to do.

Let me tell you a story why doing this leads to a better life.

Feeling stuck in a role where the passion had burnt out, I turned to my interests for an escape. If you’re anything like me then there’s lots of them.

I was running my own online T-shirt business, doing logo design for clients, learning web design and I even had dreams of heading down a path associated with music.

I wanted to do everything. I tried to do everything. Even though I was good at all those interests, I never found much success while juggling them.

By sharing so many diverse things on social media and working hard at doing lots of different things, nothing ever took off. A “Jack of all trades, master of none” scenario. I was good at all of those hobbies but if I had just focused all of the time and effort on any one of those things then I know there would have been success in it.

So, that’s what I did. I decided to focus.

Discovering My Passion

Illustration wasn’t the first thing I gave focus too though.

How can you pick one thing out of the many interest you have?

How do you know whether you’re actually ‘passionate’ about any of them?

Deciding that I would give myself time to discover what I truly loved, I picked one pursuit to focus on. My goal was to work at it everyday, learn what I could, improve my skills and see whether I still enjoyed doing it when it started to get difficult.

Trying to keep the dying flames of my passion for design alive, I started to pursue web design. This didn’t last long though and I lost interest in the action of doing it after only a couple of weeks.

Logo design was another story. I pursued this for months, creating and posting daily logos on my social media channels. I even built a small audience and landed myself some great client projects. The enjoyment of this eventually waned though too.

One thing I found myself wanting to do more than anything else is draw. I truly missed the action of naturally creating something. It reminded me of the time I was a kid jotting down everything I loved in my sketchbook.

Still juggling my day job, 9 hours a day 5 days a week, I started pursuing illustration in my spare time. Waking up earlier to create before heading to work, finding the time to create when I got home – this was something I truly enjoyed.

Even if you will never get paid for the work you do, would you still do it?
That’s how I define passion.

Showing Up Consistently

A lot of people wonder why they can’t build a following for their work on social media when others find so much success. I was the same – I blamed it on luck and exposure. Then I discovered the success you can achieve when showing up consistently.

Posting a new illustration to social every now and then, or that time I posted three new illustrations the same day then nothing new for another month – I was just making noise.

Even when I saw other illustrators post a new drawing I’d think “Oh cool, he posted a new illustration,” then forget about them. I only remember the artists I see posting new content daily or weekly on a consistent basis.

In the words of entrepreneur Sean McCabe, “People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency.”

People plan their lives around weekly schedules. Game of Thrones airs on a Sunday. They play football on a Tuesday. They check out your new content on a Wednesday. If you’re not in that schedule, you’re not going to be remembered.

Then there’s getting into people daily schedule. Consistently give your audience new content to consume everyday after their run, during their lunch break or when they’re winding down in the evening and you’ll start to see amazing results.

The success I’ve seen from posting content on a consistent basis cannot be argued with.

Curation. Curation. Curation.

I spoke about how I found success when curating my focus to illustration.

By only sharing illustration instead of all of my other pursuits and hobbies I gained a more successful and dedicated following to my work.

Only sharing one kind of thing. Sounds scary, right?

Just like I mentioned when talking about discovering your passion; our lives are made up of seasons.

Curation – focus on one pursuit now so you can build a foundation for your future endeavours.

"The reality is that people put other people in boxes.
Embrace the fact that you will be put in a box and design what that box is." - Sean McCabe

Don't Be A Stranger!

Here’s a few other places you can find me. Feel free to drop by and say hello!

• Facebook
• Pinterest
• Behance

Speak soon!

Gethin Oliver

Get Exclusive Content

Get weekly updates straight from behind-the-scenes and receive curated access to the best of what I do

By joining my mailing list you will receive regular e-mails with interesting stories about my illustration projects, as well as updates concerning new learning resources and product releases to help you get to where you want to be.

Also, I’d love to hear from you personally. I read and respond to every reply I receive to my welcome e-mail, so hit “reply” and say hi!

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