It has been over two years since Blue Hive was launched and we finally decided to jazz up our meeting room space. We have commissioned Jo Bird a.k.a Caz Swanne to give each meeting room its own individual identity based on the Cluedo board game. We have a lounge, a dining room, a study, a billiard room, a library and finally a kitchen (this is the creative space where we stir-up ideas). I decided to interview & photograph Caz while she was doodling away to find out about her experiences and inspirations.
So how did you get first started in the oh-so-competitive field of illustration?
Well, I studied Illustration at Kingston University straight out of school; I always knew that I wanted to work in art and illustration seemed more commercially viable and accessible than fine art. After graduating, I went to work for a visualizing agency called Three Blind Mice where I learnt about the sales and marketing sectors of the industry. I was project managing the creative when in fact; all I really wanted to do was BE a creative. So in the end, it was JELLY LONDON that gave me my big break and starting representing me. It actually was only about two years ago that I gained the confidence and acquired the clients to be able to fully freelance for a living.
Great decision, and I bet you’ve never looked back since! But how did you manage to find your own style and stand out from the rest of the doodlers?
Well, funnily enough, I have two styles. When I left uni I felt I had too much of a house-style which was most probably the influence of my tutors; you truly find your style when you start experimenting. I had to find my own feet at Three Blind Mice, there I picked up lots of computer tips from the other artists which has really influenced my Miss Swanne style, (which is more graphic design focused) over the hand drawn qualities of my Jo Bird style; which I am doodling onto your meeting room walls as we speak!
Ok, so obviously I am biased but I do prefer the hand-drawn uniqueness of doodles as opposed to computer arts, combining the two is the most fascinating thing for me though. Everyone see’s things differently I suppose, speaking of different opinions, what is your process when working with clients?
My process is straight forward, this sets illustration apart from art, I like to think that I am the pencil in the clients’ hand allowing their idea to express itself. After the initial briefing with the client where we will discuss their key requirements and expectations of the creative, I always take some time to consider and give the brief my own input, at which point I will produce a rough pencil draft. The clients will of course feed back their comments, which will lead to more roughs before I go into the final line work and add color. The Blue Hive project is a little different as it is allowing me more creative freedom and allowing me to art direct which is refreshing and most of all, it’s fun
Glad to hear that, certainly looks like you adore what you do. How do you promote yourself
There are two ways; I rely heavily on my fabulous agent Hulya, who is a marketing wiz! But privately I have the standard fare of marketing tools at my disposal, these include, business cards, a website made by my friend who is a graphic designer, Chris Kentish, he used word press, which means I can update my portfolio all by myself. Of course I have a online persona and use a face book fan page, twitter and my food blog, supperst.tumblr.com My poor old printed folio hasn’t been through the front door in quite a while, its amazing how much online marketing has taken off!
Good for Blue Hive, digital is exciting. What has been your absolute favorite assignment to date?
Easy. Blue Hive. Without a doubt.
Hmmm… Ok then. And what do you enjoy most about working as an illustrator?
It’s fun because I get the chance to create stuff that’s unique but also I love a challenge. I get a real kick out of seeing my finished work published and knowing other people will see it too. I was in a Harrod’s magazine recently and my most recent Miss Swanne commission can be seen in TOWIE’s ident for Surf! It’s well reem!
Brilliant! I love that little dog on the washing line; very playful. How do you maintain the work – play balancing act?
When I have a job, I give it 100% of course, its go-go-go. You do however, have to learn to enjoy the down time as an illustrator because you are not consistently busy. I find it gives me the perfect chance to catch up with my six nephews and my little niece; they are all under the age of four at the moment so it’s a special time for family.
So do you ever get those annoying creative slumps and what is your quick-fix?
Cry. Phone a friend. Start Again.
And what has been inspiring you lately?
The thought that I might win a blog competition to go to Japan. Take me to TOKYO!
Nice, next question is easy. Do you have a favorite color?
Easy answer, yellow.
Any advice for others who are trying to pursue creative goals?
Yes, don’t give up! Determination is key. If you want it badly enough, someone will give you your lucky break. Keep going. I have had jobs take a wrong turn, and lost some altogether, but essentially illustration is what I need to be doing with my life, so, in the end, you just keep creating.
Interesting, thanks for reminding me!
Charlotte Mary Rose