Meet the Maker: Illustrator Felicity French
Felicity French is an incredibly talented illustrator, primarily working with watercolours to create her bright, colourful and decorative designs.
After graduating from the Arts University in Bournemouth in 2011, Felicity pursued a career as a freelance illustrator, and hasn’t looked back since. She has illustrated numerous children’s colouring books, and you can often spot a greeting card or two on the high street featuring her beautiful designs. Felicity has been online savvy with how she markets her brand, with her own website, and online shop selling her beautiful wares.
Going freelance is something many people dream of, however never take the plunge. We ask Felicity for some pointers on how she has built up her own freelance business . . .
Illustrator Felicity French
We love your watercolour illustrations, where do you get your inspiration from?
I love using my watercolours and I get inspiration from so many places. I love looking at books full of flowers and wildlife. I also check out Pinterest A LOT!! I spend quite a lot of time browsing shops for nice card designs and If I can I’ll take a sneaky photo of a nice style or technique!
What do you love about painting with watercolours over other mediums?
I love the freedom you get with watercolours. You never quite know where the paint is going to run or the shapes it will make. The amount of water I use on the brush can totally change the shade of a colour, and I’m a bit of a pastel addict so they are perfect for this! I love painting really loosely so the paint runs and bleeds together, but if I have a brief that requires detailed precision I can achieve that too! I like to just relax when I’m painting, sometimes a mistake can look great and becomes an important part of the picture!
Tell us a bit more about your other crafting passions.
I love making anything that requires using up old papers and found items, like stamps and buttons. I love to incorporate hand-drawn type into my projects and designs, so I like to play around with all my different pens and pencils! I am getting married this year so have spent many hours in Hobbycraft already collecting my various craft materials!! I’m going to make my invitations and place cards as well as a few other things I have in mind! Maybe I’ll send in some photos of the finished crafts!
What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up at silly o’clock (5.30am) when the other half (John) goes to work and get myself a large cup of coffee and check my emails with a bit of Jazz FM! I am working on a number of children’s activity colouring books at the moment for a publisher so a lot of time is spent drawing – I can’t complain!
The book I am doing at the moment is an animal sticker book so my time has been occupied with lions, stags and coral reefs among other things! I usually have a few card designs on the go at the same time, which I work on in between projects. I often have to wait a while to get feedback on my designs before I can work on them further, so this is a good chance for me to come up with new ideas. If I have time I’ll pop out for a coffee and a walk.
What does your work space look like? Give us a tour!
My little studio is my haven! My friend Daryl (who is a hugely talented joiner) made me a fantastic wooden desk top which I have on fold-up trestle legs. When someone comes to stay I can just take it down and put it away, get out the sofa-bed and turn it into a bedroom! My Mac and digital radio are the first things that get turned on in the morning.
My desk is filled with pots of pens, paintbrushes, pencils and endless boxes and tins filled with other crafting goodies! And of course my little bonsai tree, and little trinkets that fill up my shelves of books. Then comes my wardrobe, which is full of wicker baskets full of paper, card and my easel. I have lots of bits and pieces stuck to the wall which inspire me. Normally there is paper everywhere and I can’t find anything! But it looks great when it’s tidy!
What’s always in your craft stash?
Raffia and twine! I use these in any craft project I possibly can, I just love the stuff! Of course my watercolours and lots of fine liner pens which I get through like there’s no tomorrow!
What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Being able to work at home in my own space and not having to answer to anybody! I can manage my own time and grab a cuppa whenever I fancy.
What’s been your favourite commission/design you’ve done to date?
That’s a tricky question! It would probably be a set of floral watercolour designs I did for a company called Paper Rose. One was an old typewriter and one a Singer sewing machine – I drew swirly type and painted lots of little flowers around them. But I also love working on the children’s activity books, I used to make them for my siblings when we were younger and I never dreamed I would end up doing it for a job! The Neon Colouring Book would be up there as it was my first published book.
What top tips would you give someone wanting to start up their own business and go freelance?
- I think having an agent to represent you is a great way to get started. They push you in directions you wouldn’t always take, and are always around to give you new ideas when you hit the creative wall. They also take care of all the boring admin work so I can spend all my time creating!
- Have a website which you update regularly (or try to!) and also a blog. I have a facebook page as well which is good for exposure.
- Make new work all the time! If you are constantly creating, new ideas will form so much quicker and your work will evolve in so many ways. Clients like to see fresh new ideas rather than the same old designs over and over again, and it shows how pro-active you are.
- Be confident with your style and be unique.
- Get up on time and work like you would if you were going out to work. I also have time sheets for all my projects so I know what I have spent all my time doing! It’s very easy to get distracted with housework!
- Don’t undersell yourself!! It is incredibly easy to do and I have done it numerous times when I started out, but don’t forget you are selling a craft and a talent and they are coming to you because they can’t get it elsewhere, so be confident when naming your price!
And for the future? What’s next?
The plan is to stick with being a freelancer as I absolutely love it can’t imagine doing anything else. I have a few more things up my sleeve and some book ideas which I’d like to turn into children’s picture books.