In this weeks Spotlight we hear from the exceptionally talented Cara Diffey and her creative journey
What led you into illustration?
I’ve always covered every notebook in sketches and doodles – sometimes I would just draw on myself if I didn’t have one! I reached a point where I couldn’t stop, it was too much fun but it’s only been over the past couple of years that I’ve realised I can make a viable career out of it too, which is a massive bonus.
If there was ever such a thing, what would a typical working day look like?
There definitely isn’t such thing as a typical day for me. I tend to work across a vast array of mediums which can mean that everyday requires a different process and routine. From murals to paintings to digital illustrations to live animating, not one is the same. But that’s all part of the excitement.
What pieces of work are you most proud of? And why?
I’m always super proud when approached by well established Australian companies. I guess I’m most proud of the projects that best reflect my style and what I love to illustrate. Working with the Young Henrys crew is always a blast – they are legends and have a real respect and appreciation for art.
I am also particularly proud of the pieces that I have created for Universal Music and Speedo. Both brands allowed me to run with my style and trusted that we could create something unreal together.
What tools / techniques / approaches did you use to create these projects?
These projects mostly start with rough digital sketching. I use my Wacom Cintiq and illustrator to just sketch up some random ideas and thoughts.
I always tend to start digital, even if it is a mural or painting. It’s just fun to play around on the Cintiq – and I can always command + z!
What’s the best part about being a freelancer?
There are lots of great aspects to being a freelancer. I really appreciate the freedom to be in control of my own schedule and creative freedom. Plus, the ability to work from nearly any location and at any hour is also a big advantage.
What are the most common challenges you encounter in the job/industry?
As a freelancer, the most common challenges tend to be financial. Cash flow can be a difficult balancing act when you’re solely managing yourself and your clients. Naturally, there are ebs and flows but it’s really important to stay true to your mission and trust that hard work will pay off. It definitely keeps you hungry and constantly on the search for the next project.
Can you name/describe another brand’s product illustration you have recently been excited by? And why?
I love keeping up to date with the projects that my favourite artists are working on.
I’m a big fan of the work of Steven Harrington, an American based artist. He recently collaborated with IKEA to produce a limited edition range of homewares, which turned out awesomely. My girlfriend and I sped to IKEA and purchased everything we could. We were running around like kids in a candy store!
How do you keep evolving and growing as a illustrator?
It’s incredibly important to challenge yourself and to understand where you want to be in the long run, while trying to stay true to what you like to do and what makes you happy. Completing projects that you have no interest in or desire to do well are pointless completing. At the end of the day you need to support yourself financially, but it’s important to learn to say no if a project doesn’t excite you as you won’t be doing anyone including yourself any favours.
If you’re in a creative rut, do you have go-to places either physical, virtual or both where you go to get inspired?
Definitely – and this is key! I usually take the dog for a walk or do something mindless to shift my attention. I’ve recently got back into playing guitar so even that helps when creatively stuck.
Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Work hard and have as much fun as you can. Understand which aspects of illustration makes you happy and which parts don’t. Stay true to the content that you like to createand your own style. It’s important to be versatile but don’t get lost in the process.
Any projects you’re involved in at present that you want more people to know about?
I’m currently working toward producing limited print runs with new unseen illustrations. I’d love to have some apparel and the like available by early next year.
Watch this space! 🙂