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As an illustrator I have sometimes been asked if I can draw or paint something in a particular style (and my answer has often been “yes” to get the job!) but a client will usually choose an artist for their established style.

My style began to develop in secondary school. Being an introvert and a geek and I spent my free time drawing characters from films and TV. My favourite pencils were Karismacolor (now Prismacolor). I was influenced by film poster illustrators including Drew Struzan and John Alvin, the artists behind iconic posters such as “Back to the Future” and “E.T.”. The next step was learning how to airbrush and experimenting with mixed media in college. This was also when I learned the difference between illustration and fine art, and how I could actually make money as a creative.

By the time I started my degree course the industry had shifted to digital, so I had to switch from my airbrush and acrylic paints to a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. My current tools of the trade include an iPad Pro & Apple Pencil, Fresco and Procreate. I still work in coloured pencils on pastel paper occasionally and recently used Prismacolors to retouch a Giclèe print of my digital artwork for a portrait commission.

None of this has been easy or a smooth journey. In my early 20s I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and generalised anxiety, most likely caused by childhood trauma including a house fire and caring for a parent with mental illness. At my lowest point I would spend hours each day performing compulsive rituals, any stress would cause a panic attack and I struggled to live a normal life. This is now under control after years of therapy and family support.

As a student I would agonise over every brushstroke aiming for an unrealistic level of perfection, with every numeric setting in Photoshop having to be set to a whole number. It was too easy to press Ctrl-Z and go back a step whenever I had that nagging feeling that something wasn’t right, and I would miss deadlines as a result. The worst part was disappointing friends, family and tutors who believed in my talent but not my invisible illness. Their frustrations made me question whether it was a real condition or an excuse for a lack of motivation.

It did take motivation and self-discipline to get my OCD under control and I now think of it as an advantage that gives me an eye for detail as I craft every element of an illustration. Other parts of my life have fallen into place like Tetris pieces the last few years and I’m now in a much happier place to be creative than where I started.

We all have inner weakness that we can turn in to strengths with hard work and a good support network. What are some of yours?

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Back in January, for the first time in living memory I booked and started paying down for a week long holiday to New York in November 2020. The plan was to drop off the cats Melina and Sky to family up north while Tariq and I spent Halloween in the the big apple, Tariq planned to dress up as a Ghostbuster and I was still toying with ideas.

By mid March when the Covid figures were rising we realised it was unlikely to happen so decided to cancel and lost our deposit. Then I spent the best part of 5 months at home, wore no make-up, and became an avid Facebook user. This resulted in me getting heavily into skin care, loosing concept of days/ nights/ weeks, never wearing ‘going out’ clothes and feeling extremely put out by having to pop out, even to the bakery literally 5 minutes around the corner.

In some ways I feel it has been good for me as I have far less desire for things such as handbags and jewellery, instead I want to take care of my skin, cook and bake whilst entertaining friends in my support bubble. This was in fact how BDI came to be, while looking for a creative outlet I offered a close friend my design skills to help with the branding for her business. Looking at the straight forward "Lana-Raé" text based logo we needed the original font used to make some tweaks, so she asked the previous designer for the name of the font he used, to which he replied he'd drawn the font himself freehand and had it scanned so couldn’t help. I wasn’t buying it so I did a font finder search and within 2 minutes I found the exact font in question. We were both shocked by his deplorable behaviour, I decided to make a note in the same font for my friend to send him reading:

This made me realise there was a need for honest, no bullsh*t creative services with complete transparency and how BDI was conceived. Branding + Design + Illustration read like beady eyes (BDI) which inspired the original logo design. Shortly afterwhich Beadie and Beanie were born and now appear in a multitude of guises on our IG account @bdi_services.

So instead of being in New York right now, I’m in London, under lockdown growing a media agency alongside Tariq with the cats while riding out the storm of this pandemic and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🤓

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Like many other creative freelancers starting out I didn’t realise that I was a “brand”. I thought that word only applied to giant corporations. It wasn’t until I met Teresa that my brand became clearly defined when she helped me to design my first logo and website in 2017.

As Teresa and I entered a new phase in business and our relationship founding BDI Services together, it became clear that my own freelance illustration brand needed an overhaul to bring it up to standard and reflect where my career is in 2020.

My original “TS” logo referenced my love of science fiction and was inspired by the font used for “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. My new logo created by Teresa cleverly transforms my initials into the tip of a pencil and clearly conveys my brand and the tools of my trade. This became the starting point for my website re-design which replaces my original white brick “art gallery” theme with a cleaner interface and more focus on my art.

In these times as the internet plays a bigger role in keeping us connected and our businesses alive, it’s more important than ever to have a clearly defined brand showing people what makes you stand out from the crowd. This is where BDI can help you make it happen!

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