Monday, 28 September 2015

How a Late Paying Client Can Ruin a Freelance Business

Aaaah dear. This again. This AGAIN.

As an artist and a freelance illustrator, I've always known the key differences in the two. As an artist, I work by myself, for myself. I create work that I love. Art that makes me calm and happy. And the way I am able to make art is by creating illustrations for different clients. 

And I love it.

There's nothing better than getting a challenging brief and really pushing yourself, and then getting it right. Also as an illustrator, I end up working more collaboratively. My job is to help visualise what the client wants, and sometimes I have to pull away and do my own thing to get the best results. 

It's all cool.

So the job's over, and weeks turn into months, and no payment shows up. This becomes really tricky. A freelance budget is constantly precarious. You're relying on the goodwill of your clients to pay when they say they will, and if they put it off, forget to pay you, or flat out refuse by dodging emails or losing your invoice, then you're in trouble.  

A late payment can be the difference between just getting by, and wracking up extortionate bank charges. A late payment can be the end of the line for an illustrator. 

It's hard to imagine for many people not getting a pay check every month. Every month, on the dot, you'll get paid. You may have had a slow month at work, it may have been one of the most stressful, but you know each month that the money is coming in. 

This is not the case for freelancers. 

I can budget all I want - things can look rosy. Jobs are lined up and are being illustrated. And then, the silence after the job. The long months of worry as you watch your careful plans for your business' survival crumbling. 


Because your huge corporation of a client wants to hang on to your bill just one month longer. Screw the illustrator. She'll be fine. We don't care any way. 

Well - here's the thing...a late payment is death to a freelancers business. A business that they've spent years nurturing with loving hard work and long hours.  

So clients, when you've commissioned an illustrator...just pay your damn bill. 

Thank you.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

'The Magical City' published today!

Here it is! My first book with Penguin 'The Magical City' hits the shops today!

Here is an interview I did with the lovely Neil Bennett at Digital Arts Magazine about the book. 

Interview with Digital Arts Magazine 

Photo credit : Digital Arts Magazine

Friday, 27 February 2015

A letter of love to the staff at Piccadilly Waterstones

A few weeks ago I went to Waterstones in Piccadilly seeking something. Recently, I've gone through a through a few difficult life events, things that I accept and am dealing with but are affecting me in different ways.

I came to Waterstones to find books. Obvious, I know but I needed a certain kind of book. A funny, warm, loving book - the kind of book that we've all read that made us fall in love with reading in the first place. My only stipulation? For the love of god, not chick lit. But I was welcome to anything and everything else. 

Piccadilly Circus, LMC
I went to the main desk and met Darcy. I told Darcy what I was looking for - a book to help me switch off, engage with something else, take my mind off things and basically give me a literary hug.

Darcy was incredible. 

We went through the shop, collecting her colleagues as we went, who all had their own recommendations for me. It warmed my heart to be met with such passion, kindness and joy for books and people that Darcy and her colleagues showed. 

I bought 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde, 'High Fidelity' by Nick Hornby and 'How to be a Woman' by Caitlin Moran. 

I wanted to thank Darcy and her colleagues for giving me a lift that day, and showing that in this busy city, people still genuinely care about each other in a real way and are willing to open their hearts to strangers to help them out.

Thanks Darcy - I really loved High Fidelity.

Lizzie xxx

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Private or Public London

Walking, exploring, seeing, adventuring, perceiving, being, mapping, finding....

I'm spending the year exploring the hidden joys of London for my solo show, and there is so much wonder to be found.

But there is trouble afoot in old London Town.

What is public? What is private?

Where can you walk in your city, and where is barred to you?

Check out this worrying look at what happened when Guardian journalist Jack Shenker, writer Anna Minton and urban explorer Dr. Brad Garrett went on a mission to walk the Thames Pathway, to varying degrees of success....

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Being an illustrator : How to get inspired again

Hello again from (stormy and sunny) Cornwall!

One thing I get asked a lot by illustrators/friends/tweets etc is what happens when you're creatively stuck? What happens when your style seems jammed up, and you can't produce anything good?

I think it's really important to remember we've all been there - staring at a blank page and having no idea what to fill it with, and even wondering if we want to fill it. My advice is always this: step away from the page, and give yourself a break. Go for a walk, do something else, read a book, go to a gallery. Be aware that you might just not want to do any work, and forcing yourself to produce something below your usual standard will just make you feel rubbish. Many artists who work alone, writers, musicians, illustrators etc will often beat themselves up with damaging inner monologue - 'why can't I work? What's wrong with me?' The truthful answer is - nothing. Nothing's wrong with you - the minute you substitute unkind thoughts for kind ones - 'you're doing great, you're OK', is the moment ideas become more free, and work starts to flow.

I often find that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone helps also.  Maybe try something different. After my time with the Beehive Design Collective, I've been inspired to do work with washes and inks much more. It's brought a depth to my work that's slightly different, and it's something that I find really exciting. 

Inks from Atlantis art shop, Hanover Street, Brick Lane

 For those who know my usual personal art work, I use lots of pen and ink and specialise in urban cartography (see below image of Chinatown © 2008) 

Chinatown © 2008, pen and ink

But recently I've been looking at lots of different ways of exploring my surroundings with my pen. Working on my new solo show with the Serena Morton Gallery, I've been researching and drawing London's lesser known treasures and committing them to the page. Below is the start of my piece of the Necropolis Railway near Waterloo, and below that is the Guy's Operating Theatre and Museum. 

Necropolis Railway, work in progress 2014/2015

Guys Operating Theatre Museum

So next time you're faced with this...

...then pop down to the art shop and try something different. 

You never know what could happen!

L x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Illustrating by the sea

It's 4th Jan 2015 and I've come to a small fishing village in Cornwall. The idea is to buckle down and get some serious work done. 

There's not much here - I saw a dog and a seagull fighting this morning on the beach. That was quite interesting. Right now, I'm looking at the expanse of the sea from my room, it's pretty immense. 

While I'm here, I'll be working on some odd jobs for various people, but my main purpose is to create my submission for the annual Folio Society Book Competition - more info here -

I don't agree with unpaid spec work but this is a different kettle of fish. This competition has been running for a few years, and offers a chance to create a book for the Folio Society (one of the most beautiful book publishers in the world.) It also offers people (like me) who aren't too experienced in the world of book illustration to have a project to dig their teeth into. 

This year it's a collection of ghost stories. Since I'm alone in this desolate sea front, (so much so that walking around on my own gives me a creepy Meryl Streep from French Leuithenant's Woman vibe)  I'm hoping to only read these stories in the day, or I might scare the crap out of myself late at night. Alone. By the seafront. In the middle of nowhere.