5 Mins, Illustration 7 years ago

Emmeline Pidgen on not working for free, and the importance of drawing what you enjoy.

Emmeline Pidgen Illustration is not only unique but very well timed. She is always ready with her sketch book, poised to capture those little moments that develop into full on stories and you can tell

How then does someone with a keen eye for fine detail and the skill for telling stories build a career? Emmeline Pidgen Illustration work could not be a more perfect example aesthetically, and Emmeline herself couldn’t be better to speak too about exactly that. She was kind enough to answer our questions, here’s what she said…

Could you give us 3 tips that you’d say have got you to where you are today? 

I think the three best tips I could give from my experience would be:

1) Get your work out there using social media
2) Resist working for free (you’ll get a lot of offers of exposure, but it’s far better to spend time on your portfolio yourself!)
3) Take the pressure off “finding a style”, just draw what you enjoy and a style will come!


Why did you feel Illustration is best suited to you as an art form? What excites you about it?  

I’ve loved creating characters and stories since childhood. Drawing has always been something I’ve done for fun, relaxation and to express ideas. So…

to be able to combine that with a career feels amazing! 

I love the problem solving that comes into play with a new commission brief. As well as the challenge of serving all roles of a business as a freelancer.

But I think most of all I find that illustration has such incredible diversity as a career. It feeds into so many things: print, storyboarding, advertising, costume design for film, even medical illustration… There’s just so much out there, it’s an incredibly vibrant and exciting industry to be involved in. 

Give us an idea of your average day, how you work and how do you get your creative ideas done?

One of the great things about being freelance is that every day can be as different as you want it to be.

I don’t tend to have a rigid schedule or routine.

Although I do make to-do lists and goal plans for the coming week, with stricter structures for commission deadlines. It’s good to have structure, but enough freedom to work on what’s driving you creatively at the time.

Inspiration is not something you can really force, so when I get stuck in a rut with a project I’ll switch to doing some other drawing, clear my head with a walk, or step into a totally different world through reading.

Emmeline Pidgen Illustration Examples


Emmeline Pidgen Illustration Examples from October


How do you attract new work?

I tend to attract illustration commissions through making sure the work that I do is promoted well online. As well building contacts, blogging, and constantly creating new work.

I won’t lie,

there is an absolute ocean of illustrators out there on social media and it can feel hard to have your work seen.

That said, social media has been fantastic for me. And I have had some of my biggest commissions stem from companies seeing my illustrations shared on Twitter or Instagram.


Can you talk us through the process of how you get inspiration and how you form new ideas?

I often draw inspiration from most situations and environments. So you’ll always find me with a sketchbook in my bag, ready to jot down quick drawings or notes when an idea pops up!

I love walking and exploring nature, and I like making time to visit historical sites and museums (I’m always brimming with ideas afterwards!).

I spend a lot of time reading books, listening to music and watching films, so I think there’s great value in finding inspiration in parallel industries.


How long have you been an Illustrator and would you say it’s your career?

 I’ve been illustrating professionally for six years now.

 What’s the best advice would you give to someone starting out?

I think the most important advice to remember is,

that being brave enough take that first step as an illustrator is always going to be the scariest part.

I won’t sugar-coat it, freelancing in the creative industries is tough. But if you’ve got that drive and passion, then giving it a shot and taking that leap will always be worth it.


Check out more of Emmeline's work on her site.



I'm co-founder of Crazy Animal Face, host of the CAF Podcast, and compere of our CAF events. My views are my own.

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