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Interview: Alex Mathers

14 Oct 2014

Next in our series of interviews is Alex Mathers, awesome illustrator from UK who has worked with clients such as Google, Sony, Washington Post or Wired Magazine. He also runs Red Lemon Club, a quite known blog where he writes business and marketing tips for professional illustrators.

Alex Mathers

Where did the road to become a successful illustrator began for you?

Contributing stock illustrations to a stock website for pocket money. It began attracting client work and I went freelance a couple of years after adding my first stock illustration!

How did you end specializing on vector map and landscape illustrations?

Specialising was something I was aware that I needed to do based on what I was seeing around me in the work of other illustrators and designers. I ended up focusing on map and landscapes because I love to do them. This coupled with my awareness of needing to stay focused on a speciality, meant I honed my skills in this area above anything else.

Did you see a niche market opportunity there, is it a personal preference, or maybe both?

It's a bit of both!

Alex Mathers

You have worked for big clients like Google, Wired, or Washington Post. What is it like? Any hints for illustrators who are trying to reach this kind of clients?

Yes, it was great fun working with bigger name clients. Work on this balance: creating work that is considered 'cool' yet different at the same time. Create your unique take on what is 'hot' or 'cool'.

What qualities does a client and project need to have for you to feel comfortable and motivated?

For me, a great client is one that allows me to work on something that contributes to some positive change in the world, especially projects that will be seen by large numbers of people. A good client is also one that allows for plenty of my own creative input.

What good (and bad) things do you feel the Internet and the new technologies have brought to the illustrator profession?

Modern technology has made illustration more high profile than ever before. The Internet is what got me into illustration in the first place, and the access it gives you to a global audience and global clients is amazing. The web has allowed me to live a flexible and nomadic lifestyle, earning good money doing what I love to do.

The biggest issue with the net is distraction. It's the responsibility of the illustrator to avoid distraction. The competition it creates keeps you moving forward.

And last, but not least: any advice for aspiring illustrators just starting up their careers?

Yes, work hard building up a solid, beautiful portfolio that demonstrates you understand what is sought after, but in your own highly unique way.

Thanks a lot, Alex!

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