Yeah – we get to talk shop with Auckland based illustrator Juliet Burton. We found out about Juliet via our International Type Competition #TDKthumbsup, earlier this year – and you may recognise her beautiful ‘Interislander’ sign from the NZ Roadtrip video. Juliet gives us the insight into how she is finding her feet as a freelancer and the lessons she has learnt along the way.
Tell us about where you are today and what you love about your job!
I split my time between my home studio and the HQ of Britomart Hospitality who I contract to. I guess while I have had some success in getting established as an independent contractor/freelancer I feel I still have some way to go before I have a ‘stable’ of great clients. I am pretty happy to be making head way in a difficult and competitive business. Seeing my work used commercially is very satisfying.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Be prepared to give up sleep (for the right client).
2. Going from a 6 week brief at university to being told you have 48 hours to create full page illustrations can be quite a shock to the system. That’s just the nature of the beast.
3. Be patient – its often feast or famine as a freelancer, its important not to let those times of famine deter you.
4. Don’t take things too personally. When being hit with ‘constructive’ criticism from clients it took me a while to develop thicker skin. It’s the way you deal with that sort of thing that shapes who you are as a designer.
5. You can say no. I went through a period where I was saying yes to every piece of work I was offered. It’s not good for your mental health and can affect the quality of your work. 6. Be humble. No matter how much you think you know – there is always more to learn.
Where do you gather inspiration, on and off the web?
Visually – I am absolutely obsessed with Pinterest at the moment, I’m still not quite sure what it does but I’m really into it. I find cinematography can spark a lot enthusiasm for me, if I’m in a creative rut I will watch one of my favorites like Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock or Annie Hall by Woody Allen. I also find when I’m lacking inspiration or motivation I will watch a TED Talk. Any of them are great but my favorite to date is Tavi Gevinson | A Teen Just Trying to Figure it Out.
Which three people in the design industry would you pick as mentors and why?
I’m working on a pretty special project with James Hurman from Previously Unavailable, he is one of the brains behind the Stolen Rum brand among other choice projects. Kelly Thompson tutored me in my last year of study, while our styles of illustration are quite different I really admire her work ethic. Keeping in touch with friends from university and sharing stories of recent projects is always inspiring and keeps me sane.
Any personal projects you would like to share? Supernormal is a multidisciplinary design studio myself and two very talented guys are about to launch. Collectively, our studio is based on a mutual love of design, media and all things unique and obscure. We’ll work across the full spectrum of design, digital, brand and media. Additionally we’d like to grow this into a wider collective with creative specialists. Watch this space!
What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?
Without doubt attitude is huge. Obviously you need to have the skills and creativity for the job, but without the right attitude that is pretty much wasted. You also need to be able to get on with people, whether that is in team environment or working with clients. You can’t achieve very much on your own.