Is there strength in numbers?

The spring issue of wrap is here and as usual it’s completely inspiring. There is a really interesting article all about how joining a ‘collective’ of illustrators can help your career as an independent illustrator. Is there strength in numbers? 

It’s an arguable subject where some illustrators say it’s better to make a name for yourself independently before tagging along with someone else and maybe getting lost in the croud? Since discovering Lesley Barnes and the Handsome Frank collaboration I can really see the benefits in being a part of something bigger than just you. Surely it broadens your audience? For example, I had only heard of Lesley Barnes but on finding out she is part of a collaboration there are now 29 other illustrators work for me so discover. This can’t be a bad thing.. can it? 

Interestingly, the article begins by an interview with Tom Robinson, the co-founder of Handsome Frank. He says the illustrators who work best in a collective are the ones who have narrowed their work down to a certain recognisable style, consistent look or technique which allows them to be recognised. This is really interesting because for me as an illustrator I quite often flit around various different styles of drawing and never really settle on one until quite recently during the publication project where I found a style that was really working and stuck with it for the duration of the project. Tom Robinson says that clients that Handsome Frank work for are quite often looking for this type of designer who has really narrowed themselves down to what they are best at and stuck with it. He goes on to say that joining a collective and having people around to ask their creative opinion can really help you to develop a style. 

‘Industry recognition for an individual is based purely on the quality of work, but collectives can be an effective way of producing work that might be difficult to achieve alone’. He concludes by saying that by having a network of skilled friends you can relate to and call upon when required is the first step in success.

It was a really enjoyable and insightful article and has definitely got me thinking about branding myself in a very particular way and producing more work which is very obviously in my ‘style’. 

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