Lucy Truman began her illustration career 15 years ago, and today she remains a firm favourite with Art Directors around the world.
Lucy has just created a series of new artworks inspired by everything from beauty products to the world around her. Here are some of her thoughts on her inspirations, career and hopes for the future.
You’ve established and kept a loyal and varied client base over the years, what do you put your success down to?
I think my success has been due to a combination of hard work and being lucky. I was lucky that I started my career during the boom of the early naughties, but to survive as an illustrator I’ve had to develop an understanding of the markets and adapt my visual language to compliment the styles of the day.
How have you ensured your work has remained relevant?
You have to keep seeing the world with the same fresh eyes you had after art school. It’s easy to be so busy that you don’t have time for anything other than your paid jobs. This is a wonderful place to be of course, but I think in order to suit the style required by clients, your work can become formulaic without knowing it. I always have a niggling feeling “I NEED to work on fresh new images”. Experience has given me an insight into the market, there are always shifts in illustrative styles and you have to keep moving. Style wise, you also need to stay true to yourself and be passionate about your way of working. When I recently produced my first artwork using digital watercolour, that was a stand out moment for me, I love the medium and the expressive nature of it.
What is your process for creating new work?
I work by sketching ideas by hand and brainstorming compositions. I use my family as models, namely my long suffering daughter! I bounce ideas with my mum and husband who are very good at giving an honest opinion and will tell me quickly if something is rubbish. I don’t know where I would be without them! Ideas often come to me by seeing something in the street or very late at night when I am in bed, I have to jot them down, otherwise they’ll keep me awake.
What inspires your work?
I am constantly inspired by and love the Pop Art era and also the fashion illustrations of the 1950’s and 60’s. The children’s books I grew up with and adore are also a big influence, the work of Maurice Sendak, M Sasek, Quentin Blake, to name a few. I also find many starting points from all the forums I follow on social media – there are so many wonderful visual delights out there, and I flick through so many magazines for new ideas. You absorb so much imagery that it becomes part of you.
You’ve worked widely across all area’s of commercial illustration working on international advertising campaigns, lifestyle editorials and children’s books, do you prefer working in one specific area?
Every area is different, which makes my job very enjoyable, I feel blessed to work in such a playful and creative world. It is great to be working on a children’s book one minute and the next working on editorial pieces or indeed my own self promotion. Having said the work is varied, I still have to have the same ethics and working methods across the board, so all my jobs are approached in the same way no matter who the client is.
How would you define success as a commercial illustrator?
Success is a word which some people mistakenly define through money and fame, for me it is more about succeeding at doing the best you can and being proud of the job you do. I think success can only be achieved if you stay grounded and understand you are one of many successful artists and that you have to work very hard to make an impact. You cannot take anything for granted.
What are your aspirations for the future, do you have a dream project in mind?
I would love to create work for a shop window and see my work as I walk past a store. I would also love to see my card designs succeed and maybe expand into products. However, my ultimate aspiration is to be able to work in a way where I can remain true to myself, have creative freedom and be respected. You cannot ask for anything more than that.
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