In this weeks ‘Spotlight’ we learn how an obsession with drawing Sailor Moon sprouted a love for illustration that matured into a flourishing career. Melbourne illustrator Alanna Rance share’s her creative journey.
What led you into illustration?
Art has always been a part of my life but I think the initial spark was around age 8, going home from school one day and finding Sailor Moon on TV. I became obsessed with the show and filled many diaries with crudely drawn Sailor Senshi. As I got older my tastes for other art forms evolved and I taught myself how to draw, first through emulation and then finally built enough confidence to draw from my own imagination.
What tools / techniques / approaches do you employ on creative projects?
I have an inspiration folder in my computer that has all sorts of content that has grabbed my attention for different reasons. I always continue adding to it by saving any content I like when I’m scrolling through social media.
When I start a project, I think about the context, my own style, my current capabilities and then I begin researching. The construction of my concepts are usually like creating a puzzle – I take elements of different sources of inspiration, bring them together and build on it from there.
I work in Photoshop with typically three sets of layers. First is the “concept” group which is the final layout of the roughs. Then there’s the “Line Art” group which is the ‘bones’ of my work. Then finally I add my colours. Throughout the entire process I create my work with Wacom‘s Cintiq 22HD monitor which was money well spent because having the tablet be a monitor as well brings the natural gestures of my brush strokes into the digital realm.
What’s the best part about working for yourself?
Being in control on how I want to uphold myself as a professional and having the freedom of choice of where I want to take my goals and aspirations.
What are the most common challenges you encounter in the job/industry?
I’m naturally a shy and pessimistic person so I worry about undercutting the value of my time. I also get anxious about not having the ability to write the greatest sales email but I think both issues keep resolving through time and experience.
Can you name/describe another brand’s product illustration you have recently been excited by? And why?
I really love wine labels because the vast talent and variety of illustration styles really excite me. My favourite wine label is the Warburn Estate’s “Rumours” – not only is it a delicious wine but I’m also a huge fan of bird art and would love to give the commissioned artist a high five for their fantastic design.
I also get excited over book covers because I’m a bookworm in my downtime and have recently been noticing really fancy hardbound covers in my local book shop. The internals pages could be a dictionary for all I care and I’d still buy them!
In terms of other illustrators, I follow and admire a whole bunch of different artists, namely, Fran Meneses (known as Frannerd), Holly Exley, Kimberley McMurtrie (McMurtrie Illustrations), Sheryl Cole and Jade Foo.
How do you keep evolving and growing as a illustrator?
By keeping tabs on what’s happening in my industry and also fellow illustrators. I observe what trends are forming with other Illustrators’ businesses and I reevaluate where I can also grow. I’m currently in the process of starting a dialogue with some reputable Galleries closer to the CBD where I’d think would be a really good opportunity to network and promoting my business.
If you’re in a creative rut, do you have go-to places either physical, virtual or both where you go to get inspired?
When that happens, a few scenarios occur; I usually take a break and catch up with family, I listen to music or try to relax with a few of my favourite movies. If my creative psyche continues to stay on a hiatus I’ll work on my admin or promotional tasks because then I’m at least staying productive.
Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Being kind and polite never fails. As I stated earlier, I observe other illustrators and try to strike up conversations and develop friendships with them. I’m always expanding my network and am grateful when someone gives me their honest advice. And vice versa, it’s also rewarding to help someone in return.
When you’re just beginning your business I also recommend gathering the fundamentals of how you want to operate as a business. For example, I can get flustered easily so I ensured that I had solid work procedures in place before I started communicating with clients. This provided me with self-confidence and a sense of professionalism.
I also suggest joining illustration associations as they have a wealth of knowledge available for members that help maintain the integrity of the industry. I’m currently a member with Illustrators Australia who have great online resources and frequent industry seminars.
Any projects you’re involved in at present that you want more people to know about?
I (along with some other designers) have recently partnered with eco-friendly wooden greeting card company, GreeniGo, and that opportunity came from The Loop’s Gig’s list so thank you for that!
More personally, I have an ongoing project of portrait illustrations of people I admire. They include musicians and actors I have adored for years and I’ve wanted to pay homage to each and every one of them for their impact on my life.
The list includes Elvis Presley, Idris Elba, David Bowie, John Butler, Emilia Clarke and Dame Judi Dench – to just name a few.