Interview with Anne Benjamin a freelance Chicago Illustrator

Anne Benjamin talks on getting exposure as an illustrator & ponders on her career development

  • GS: Where do you get inspiration?

  • AB: Every morning I research websites, my favorite are: OMG Posters a cool poster site, Muddy Colors Fantasy Art collective.

    I get inspiration in books and also in conversation.

    I love to bounce my ideas back with other people, especially my husband, he is a designer as well.

  • GS: Does your background in Graphic Design help in developing your illustration projects?

  • AB: Yes definitely, it helps me incorporate type, helps me with defining composition and layout. I create lots of composition layout thumbnails that help me with idea development.

  • GS: When did you decide to switch from Design to Illustration? Was it difficult?

  • AB: I’ve always been interested in illustration, way back from my school projects.

    I have always incorporated my illustration into my design. So I think it was a natural transition.

    I’m not a sole illustrator: my posters are a meeting point of my design and illustration.

  • GS: What is your advice on getting exposure and positioning oneself as an illustrator?

  • AB: Make your own website, send out your promotional postcards to agency art directors.

    Set up an instagram account, blogspot, squarespace page, thumblr profile.

    Most of the professional ]illustrators and designers have that.

  • GS: How do you sustain your creative business?

  • AB: Nobody goes straight into freelance. Start with a day job at a design agency,learn the ropes, make connections.

    Go on your own afterwards. Try to establish long lasting clients.

    I actually started with designing wedding invitations. It is quite easy to get into that.

    But you know people are crazy, sometimes you’ll see your ideas hacked, everyone is looking for ideas online.
    Book illustration has a more old school set up. You have to connect with agents who will represent you.

  • GS: What is your advice to the students who want to enter a creative profession?

  • AB: I do not make money the goal of my career. If I do what I want creatively , it is the best way for me to go.

    Start doing what you want to do, get your name out there, and eventually you will have an audience and clients.

    Follow your labor of love.

    Make sure to position yourself the way you want to be perceived. Do not include the work in you portfolio if you do not want to be hired to do that work.

    If you are money driven, go get a job at a design company. That could become a good experience as well.

    You can first learn the ropes and afterwards follow your passion.

    I was printing for 2 years, it was a good experience, but eventually my creativity got me out of it.

    Let the career catch up to you. It is good to work somewhere along with doing your own thing: posters in the evening, business on the side.

    And eventually you can go part time and on your own with your own company.

    All designers that are on their own start form there.

  • GS: At what point you knew what you really wanted to do?

  • AB: I have always wanted to be in the art program, graphic design was the compromise for my parents, so that they knot that I can get a job.

    Perhaps things are different now, there are so many different fields you can find work in.

    It is such an old perception that if you are in art you’ll starve, there are lots application for artists: animation illustration, design.

    The ideas that my parents had are completely outdated now. If I had more support I’d gone to illustration.

    What you want to to do always evolves. Perhaps in a few years I’d become a puppeteer.

    It is good to set up a goal for oneself. Well, I did not do it. But I believe everyone has their own path.

    It is routine of how the process works: you start from wedding invites, trough time you develop the style, then it gets evolved… And then you constantly evolve…

    For instance for me it’s hard to look at stuff I did 2 years ago...

    Just do the work, and put out what you want to be positioned as, and it will catch up to you.


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