Case study

Illustrator — Peter Spells

From a young age, Peter knew he wanted to pursue a creative career. He is now based in Brighton, working freelance as an illustrator and designer

How did you get into illustration?

I studied for a Foundation Diploma (FD) in Art and Design at Brighton Technical College before going on to obtain a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Design/Illustration at Swindon College of Art.

I had previously studied art for GCSE and A Level and was inspired by an enthusiastic art teacher, who was encouraging and passionate about his subject matter. However, I have drawn from a young age and knew from early on that I would like to go on to study something creative with the view to forge a creative career.

I am currently based in Brighton, which is a good place to be an artist as it has a thriving creative community and is in close proximity to London.

What's a typical day like as an illustrator?

I tend to work a 9-5 day, and try to be disciplined. Sometimes, when there are quieter periods, I work on personal projects and develop new ideas.

How has your career developed?

I have designed greetings cards and prints of Brighton selling my work in many local shops as well as the Brighton Museum. This led me to finding a publisher and distributor, based in Suffolk, who reproduce my work in many formats such as on postcards, magnets, tea towels and coasters. I produce a wide range of subject matter for them, but my images mainly focus on targeting the travel industry.

I also take commissions on my website, www.petterspells.co.uk. I've had requests for book covers, magazine illustrations and children's imagery.

What are the challenges?

Being freelance has its difficulties, but it's all about making contacts and working hard to find a niche for your work to succeed.

Where would you like to go next?

I would like to get more involved illustrating children's books, perhaps even moving to work in the film industry.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into illustration and design?

I think that getting involved, and succeeding, in illustration requires working hard and being dedicated to boosting your career, but most importantly pursuing something you are passionate about. I’m not sure if a degree or HND in Art is essential, but the skills you will learn through studying give you a good grounding for the rest of your career.

Find out more