Research 1-4

Research 1  – What is the brief?

Read the brief and answer the questions.

What does the client want?

Sample brief 1

Create open credit sequence for The Culture Show

Keywords                            surprise / inspire / challenge view

The Culture Show – forward looking focus, well crafted, intelligent, leading arts programme, younger audience, cutting edge.

Target audience               25-44 year olds

Reference                           fashion, art, architecture, music, film, TV.

Brief is: quite open with some fixed requirements but the target audience is a wide range to cater for and there has to be a clear style that shows a sense of originality and freshness to it.  There are requirements such as the number of seconds required so that is a set amount of time and has to be adhered to.

Sample brief 2

Orange – ‘The vision of future communication’

Target audience               everyone

Requirements                   illustration Ai

Keywords                            vision/ future/ communication

Approach                            a) tangible and relates directly to products

                                                b) something talking about technology

                                                c) emotional and how people feel about communication and using it

Sample Brief 3

Sainsburys – an illustration or design for bags

Target audience               everyone

Requirements                   390mm(h) x 450mm(w) no colour limit/ design goes on main faces

Approach                            a) be the best for food and health

                                                b) source with integrity

                                c) show respect for our environment

How will they judge it as successful?

The Culture Show                             – 20 second long credit sequence that surprises, inspires and challenges.

Orange                                                 – the Ai illustration is related to one of the 3 options and references the future and communication.

Sainsburys                                          – the design or illustration fits to the dimensions required and identifies clearly with one of the 3 options referenced.

Do these briefs provide all the information?

Not all the briefs provide all the information.

If not, what will you ask the client?

The Culture Show                            – what format is the video required in? mp3 or mp4 or other?

Orange                                                 – what size is the illustration? Are there specific colours to use?

Sainsburys                                          – what format for print is needed? Is the design the same on both sides?  Do I need to leave room for text/social media/website details? Who provides that info?

Are these briefs open or closed?

Brief  Closedopen
  BBC The Culture ShowOpening credit sequence 20 seconds long Ref the disciplines Guideline of BB to follow Match show reputationHow you achieve the results
    Orange  Use Ai only 3-5 years in the future 3 options given to assist but this could be interpreted as open too.  3 options but could be interpreted as a closed brief, there isn’t a set type of medium to use to achieve it  
  Sainsburys  390mm x 450mm Has to fit within this Design goes on the front and back of the bag Theme is strictly the 3 option only  Design or illustration Unlimited colour Choice of 3 themes    

Research 2 –  self-directed projects

Find other examples of self-directed projects set by illustrators. What sort of brief did they set themselves?

Tom Phillips set himself the task of purchasing a book in a thrift store and then spending time altering it to create an entirely new book.  It was a self-directed project that spanned over a long period of time, and he has revisited it often to amend sections.  At the time of the video clip, he expressed an end to the project.

Other artists that engage with self-directed projects are:

Christine Nishiyama – We are Fungi

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Christine began a self-directed project in 2016 based on her interest in fungi.  The project, which was published 2017, was followed by subscribers to her website.  She shared her process and insights into the project and wrote a number of essays in regards to the process of making her picture book.  Her passion for the subject was clear but her process was also quite transparent.

She used the newsletter platform as a way to engage with other creatives wanting to explore self-directed projects and set up a space for others to engage with her steps towards her goal.  From her newsletters, it was clear that she was very detailed orientated and had mapped out he way to achieve her goal.

One of the details that was clear for her brief, was the timeline she gave herself.  It was a definite book, she had sketched a variety of ideas about what to include in it and she hooked it all to a story about a younger version of herself, walking in the forest with her dog discovering a world of fungi.  She had a clear target audience of young readers in the 6-9 year old category and she was using this project as a leaping off point to launch her studio.

Her aims were very clear, she had definitely thought it all out and had the presence of mind to keep it within a timeframe that she felt was achievable.

Throughout her journey she engaged with her newsletter and updated her subscribers on her progress and how the book was going to be produced.

This was a very clever thing to do as a way to keep herself accountable during her project. 

Her brief may have been :

Produce a small comic book in a year, that talks about fungi facts in a fun way and engages the audience (kids aged 6-9yrs ) in a way that is entertaining and interesting while conveying information.  Have it readily available online and use the newsletter subscribers as your potential sales.

There was clearly an awareness on how to use newsletters to her advantage, build up a following that engage with her journey and are therefore invested.  More importantly, her ability to follow through on the project would be assisted with the being held accountable.

She was using posca pens and various pens and ink for her project, her characters were of a simple design and her picture book was then finished in Photoshop to ensure that the quality was to the standard needed for printing.

Carolina Della Valle – Making Me

Carolina has created a number of courses for painting in journals, and her instruction is very gentle and open.  She began a self-directed project to push past her comfort zone and develop her skills as a painter further.  She began incorporating textures into her painting and pushed to try and create aerial abstract views in her paintings.

I came across her work on Instagram and was thrilled by the courses she offered on painting with acrylics.  It felt fun and definitely helped with developing my skills in colour and learning to be more free in my style.

Her current project led to her pushing it into a collection.  Originally, from her Instagram stories and short videos explaining her process, her brief appeared to be:

Engage with a more textured and structured form in her painting, push to use a wider range of materials and develop her images into a more abstract, aerial view of landscapes.

Ryan Andrews – Sarah and the Seed

Ryan is best known for his graphic novel ‘This was our Pact’ which had nominations.  His earlier work, a short comic called ‘Sarah and the Seed’, is what brought him to my attention.  He first blogged about it and showed his process as he went from a simple idea thumbnailed to a full comic.  I imagine his brief was:

Create a simple b&w comic using ink and textures, about a short story related to a seed planted by an elderly couple seeking companionship with a family in the large house they occupy.

The target audience was for a wider range of 20+ as the subject matter was both relevant to young and old.  The story being about an elderly couple that planted a large seed, was intriguing.  He very cleverly engaged his audience with regular updates and progressed with his project within his own  deadline for the project and print.


A self-directed project needs a number of factors to work in order to be successful.  In the examples given, the success was measured by the fact that the projects were made into something to sell.  That doesn’t mean that a self-directed project needs to be this, but it was interesting to find that this aspect of their project possibly assisted with them deciding on a deadline for it.  In comparison to Tom Phillips, who clearly was interested in the process and the evolution of the project, these artists I’ve listed had a ‘job’ to do even though their projects were clearly based on them pushing out of their comfort zones, exploring materials, and developing their skills.

What is shows me is that a self-directed project needs the clarity of what its purpose is.  Is it for curiosities sake, is it to develop my own skills in an area or is it to push to complete a project exploring a particular skill with the benefit of creating a body of work to sell?

The brief, being self-led, needs to be clear, and in all the examples given they had a clear guide for their brief.

For my own benefit, getting clear on future projects will be to my advantage and having a clear intention on the purpose of it would help.  Simply throwing myself into an idea won’t work and could lead to frustrations, burnout and fatigue.

These artists had an idea, they explored it, they worked in their sketchbooks with it and developed it then they set themselves up to develop their skills and finish it by holding themselves accountable by going public with it.  That worked for them, it might not work for everyone, I’m not sure it would work for me.  However, I will take from this that the idea has to be developed in my sketchbook and a clear brief on what I am doing it for will help.  They were all clear on the materials they wanted to use too, so consideration of suitable materials for the said self-directed project is important.

They all considered this before beginning the project so again, preparation is important as is being willing to experiment while engaging with the project.


Ryan Andrews (2021) Sarah and the Seed

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Caroline Della Valle (2021) Making Me

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Christine Nishiyama (2021) Might Could Studios

[Accessed 19.12.21]

Tom Phillips (2021) A Humument

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Youtube (2016) Tom Phillips

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Research 3 – copyright

What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal term, which describes the rights given to authors/creators to protect certain categories of work such as literary and artistic works. Copyright is an automatic right and there is no official registration system for copyright owners in Ireland. Copyright takes effect as soon as the work is put on paper, film, or other fixed medium such as CD-ROM, DVD etc. The primary legislation governing copyright in Ireland is the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

What does it cover?

Artistic works includes the following: photographs, paintings, drawings, maps, charts, plans, engravings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, prints or similar works, collages or sculptures, including any cast or model made for the purposes of the sculpture, works of architecture.

How much would you charge a client for your time? Think about how you go about working this out. You may want to research into what other illustrators charge for their work.

I would charge based on the type of work wanted, the medium preferred and whether it is in b&w or colour.

For example, a card design may be a small and simple design that could be done digitally and could be quick to create.  It is was for a card design company I’d have to consider the licence for that design and whether the design is a flat fee or a commission, exclusive to that company or perhaps a licenced design they use for a year and then it can be returned to me again and reused somewhere else.

If it was a poster design I’d have to consider what size, whether it was painted or digital and what time was given to it. 

If it was comic work, I would have to consider whether they expect a full page, inked, coloured and lettered and whether they expect a cover too.  These considerations alter the price you would project for a quote.

I’ve had clients in the past ask for a certain thing, get to the thumbnail stage, approve a drawing and then approve the sketch, only to find that the final image ‘isn’t what I expected’ and they then don’t want to pay.  I’ve learned the hard way that it is important to have a deposit from such clients after the image is approved and then if they dislike the final image even after approving, they don’t get their deposit back and they don’t get the image file.

All of these things are possibly something you learn as you go, unless you talk to other artists and can chat about these things openly.  Quite often I find that many are cagey about what they charge and so don’t tend to discuss these important issues, so AOI is a helpful website for it.


Copyright Ireland (2021)

[Accessed 19.12.21]

Research 4 – Identify a client

Identify an easy client you could work with. Somebody who would benefit from having an illustrator to do some work for them. Use SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats posed by such a venture.

Thortful Cards

Strengths –                       the designs vary greatly so there is room to test out a variety of styles

                                              It is up to me to be responsible for the design and upload

                                              My style is supported as there is traditional and modern supported

Weaknesses –                  it is not dealing directly with the client

                                              It is up to me to update and stay current

Opportunities-                it’s a chance to see what styles work on cards

                                              It could mean sales and therefore some money coming in

                                              It gives me the chance to try out designs and different media styles

Threats –                            it’s not guaranteed income

                                              There are many styles so it’s easy to get lost in the mix

                                              I’m depending on myself staying on top of the site and uploading regularly

                                              Is it a comfort zone move?

What does this tell you about the skills you have and those you might need to develop further?

  • I have a wide variety of styles that I can apply to different things.
  • Humour works well on this website so it could help me to push this more as a style.
  • I need to develop a routine for this type of work and perhaps it is good training for that.
  • It could also be too small a job so it is worth considering what other sites the designs could be uploaded to.

What additional research do you need to do to understand how to work successfully with a client?

It would be a good idea to research some illustrators and see what blogs they have on working with clients and companies.  There are many workshops and short courses out there to assist with how to build up clients.  From a social media perspective and from the examples given in previous research, a lot of the way to get clients can be from newsletters and building up a following.  It is a different way of approaching things.  Approaching a client directly is still something I’m not confident in doing so I’d have to research how others did it.  Having the right name to contact or knowing what to ask in relation to the work you’d like to do for them would be important.