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Welcome back, fellow artists and art lovers!
I’m unbelievably excited to be sharing another segment of my Artists from Around the World interview series!
This is one of the many exciting projects I’ve been working on behind the curtain, and I hope these interviews inspire aspiring artists out there to keep pursuing their passions, as well as help get amazing artwork in front of people looking to buy from or hire amazing creatives.
One of the things I love about being active in the online world, is that it enables me to connect with other art lovers and passionate creatives around the world. In the short amount time I’ve been working on this site,my YouTube channel, and sharing my work on social media, I’ve been able to get to know amazingly talented people that I would have otherwise never met.
Haydn Symons is one of the people I've had the fortune of getting to know.
He's an incredibly talented illustrator and designer based in the U.K. that has not only developed a unique and appealing art style, but has been able to gain experience working with world-wide clients in a variety of fields. Haydn designs logos and branding work for clients, as well as editorial and book cover illustrations.
Something I admire about Haydn is that he's constantly pushing himself to explore new subjects and techniques, and that his style and personality is palpable in everything he does.
A few months ago, he wrote an incredibly helpful blog post for us titled 3 Tips to Combine Watercolor and Gouache Like a Pro, in which he shares the similarities and differences between these two painting mediums, as well as useful tips to help us combine them effectively.
Haydn was very kind to answer a few questions I sent over and will be sharing with us how his artistic journey started, how he arrived at his art style, insights into what it's like to make a living as an artist, and much more.
So grab a cup of coffee, tea or your beverage of choice, and join me for this interview! :)
Interview with Illustrator/Designer Haydn Symons
1. What made you want to become an artist/illustrator?
I’ve been interested in art and design for a long time and have been drawing since I was around three years old. I’ve always loved to create new drawings and paintings, as well as learn about art. I studied Art and Design at Secondary School, took an Illustration course at college, and finally studied Illustration at Falmouth University, which I absolutely loved.
Illustration covers a lot of industries, from publishing, advertising to editorial, which makes it such a exciting discipline!
Throughout the years I've developed my craft and style, and have learned what it takes to become a successful freelance illustrator. I'm very passionate about the field and am 100% committed to what I do. I believe this dedication is what has allowed me to evolve my skill to what it is today.
2. You have a very distinguishable art style! Can you tell us a bit about how you arrived at it?
I started developing my illustration style during my years at Falmouth University. Throughout this time, I experimented with different mediums and materials, and pushed the boundaries of what I could produce.
My style is a mixture of traditional and contemporary elements. I consider it to be eye-catching and friendly. The artistic mediums I use most are gouache and watercolor, but I love constantly challenging myself with new techniques.
After finishing a new piece, I scan it into Adobe Photoshop in order to tidy it up a bit and do any necessary editing.
My illustration style has changed a lot from graduating back in 2013, and has evolved through a lot of practice, into what it is today.
3. What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist?
The most difficult part about being an artist is the unsteady income. It can really fluctuate from month to month and those bills need to get paid. This makes people hesitant about becoming freelance illustrators, designers or fine artists.
It can be scary and stressful when you don’t get commissions or money coming in. However, it’s an amazing feeling when you're asked to work on a new project and get paid for doing what you love. Being creative and using your artistic talent is extremely rewarding and there's nothing like being able to make a living by doing what you're most passionate about.
I've found it's incredibly important to know about marketing, sales, networking and business in general, to become successful as an artist.
4. What are your main sources of inspiration?
My sources of inspiration change from day-to-day. I’m inspired by the things around me - everything from landscapes and portraits, to news articles and popular culture.
I’m also very inspired by fine artists like David Hockney, who has become well-known figure in the art world. I really admire his use of color. I also love more traditional artists like Caravaggio, Canaletto, Rembrandt and Edward Hopper. Alongside them, I’m also inspired by well-known illustrators like Oliver Jeffers, Mr. Bingo and Sam Webber.
Lastly, I gain a lot of inspiration from reading and writing on a daily basis. I feel these practices really impact my work positively.
5. What are your must-have art supplies?
My go-to art supplies include gouache and watercolor. As I shared here at Erika's blog, I really enjoy combining both painting mediums. The paint sets I'm currently using are both by Winsor and Newton.
I usually like painting the background/base of my illustrations using watercolors, and using gouache for elements in the middleground/foreground.
I highly recommend using thick, strong watercolor paper if you’re using water-soluble painting mediums. Having to deal with buckling during the painting process is very frustrating and so is damaging our paper! I really enjoy using Seawhite Heavy Watercolor Paper in 350gsm.
Lately, I've been using a set of paintbrushes by HeartyBay that I acquired through Amazon. It's affordable and perfect for use with both watercolor and gouache.
Software applications that I use on a daily basis which are very common in the creative industry include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign to Adobe Illustrator. These are paramount for any creative.
6. Do you have any tips on how to stay motivated/productive as an artist?
To stay motivated you need to commit to creating the work that you love producing. Set goals for yourself based on your passions, and actually see them through.
Read Erika's blog post titled Time Management for Artists: My Secrets for Staying Consistently Productive to learn how to define life goals and set objectives to ensure you're progressing towards them every week.
As an artist, you'll discover the specific subjects and styles you like creating, whether they are portraits, landscapes, abstract paintings, etc. If you continue focusing on getting better at what you want to be producing, and sharing your work with the world, people will start knowing you for that kind of work. But you have to stay consistent!
It's normal to have to do work to pay the bills that we're not necessarily passionate about doing, especially when we're starting out, but it's essential to keep making time for self-initiated projects that light us up.
Whenever I'm struggling or feeling unmotivated, I always think back to my why.
Why am I a freelancer?
Why am I an artist?
What will I gain (professionally and personally) if I keep pushing towards my dreams, and what will I have to give up if I stop?
7. Do you have any projects you'd like to make happen in the near future?
I traveled a lot last year and am super pumped about creating a series of illustrated maps, soon! I visited some amazing places that I really want to document in my own way. My illustrations will help me remember those amazing moments, and will be awesome additions to my portfolio.
It's so important to include the kind of work you actually want to be doing in your portfolio, whether these projects are ones you're actually getting paid for, or self-initiated ones!
I’m currently working on a couple of illustrations for magazines, and would love to do more of this kind of work in the near future, along with publishing and advertising projects.
Aside from this, it's very important for me to keep developing my illustration and artistic style, and just keep producing and creating new things consistently.
8. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring artists, what would it be?
My one piece of advice for aspiring artists is to not give up. Even if you keep receiving knock back after knock back, keep going. Learn from your mistakes, get better, and improve.
If you’re constantly creating, improving and putting yourself out there, nothing will stop you.
Keep going and never give up on your dreams!
9. Lastly, could you share where we can find more of your work and news from you?
You can find my portfolio and personal blog over at www.haydnsymons.com.
You can also find me on social media:
A huge thanks to Haydn, for taking time to answer my questions, sharing his experience with us and, most importantly, for inspiring us to pursue our passions.
Hope you enjoyed this interview and make sure to follow Haydn's work. I personally can't wait to see what he'll be producing in the future!
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