Securing multiple appointments with editorial giants such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal is one thing. Receiving commissions from such renowned companies whilst still a student, immediately after showcasing your work to the directors, is quite another.
After a hectic day in New York pitching portfolios to art directors from a broad range of companies, Illustration students prepared to wind down for the evening. But one student, Tom Paterson, secured an opportunity that could be the first step into a successful editorial career.
On the strength of his portfolio presentation, Tom was offered the chance to create an illustration for a New York Times online article, the deadline for which was the next day.
Tom explained: “The article I was sent had a lot of great imagery. When creating editorial illustrations, I always tend to lean towards conceptual illustrations rather than literal interpretations of the text, as the image has to speak on its own but also must reflect the core ideas of the text.”
The piece, entitled ‘The Soul-Crushing Student Essay’, explores the dissolution of university students’ ability to write in a subjective format, the private “I”. On his creation, Tom reflected: “I had a few ideas in mind, most of which pictured the student chiselling themselves out of a block of paper. The final illustration has a more refined version of this concept, as the essay the student writes is being stacked into a shape resembling their head.”
Our undergraduate illustrators have the opportunity in their third year to attend the New York agencies study visit; after returning home, Tom was notified of another exciting prospect requiring his particular skills. The Wall Street Journal needed an illustration for their upcoming Off-Duty summer issue. He said: “In the space of three weeks I’ve worked for two of my favourite publications. I’m going to be constantly networking with more art directors and sending work out to potential clients.
“I can’t emphasise enough how well the tutors on the course have prepared us all for the real world of illustration. I’ve also found that the focus on conceptual thinking and strategies has changed the way I think about creating images. I now spend 70% of the time sketching and generating ideas, instead of focusing all my time on just creating a pretty picture.”