Why I didn't have to move to London after Art School

I recently published an IG TV video which was filmed for Berwick Literary festival in 2018. They had an illustrators’ panel featuring other lovely illustrators/artists who happen to live in Berwick. There are lots of us! Helen Stephens, Gerry Turley, Julia Patton, Anna Chapman Parker, Tania Willis, Mick Manning and Brita Granström to name but a few.

Illustrating in the 21st Century

In this video I talk about why and how I was able to stay living in my tiny home town in North Northumberland right beside the Scottish Borders, without needing to up sticks and move to the Big Smoke. AKA That There London. Gone are the days of lugging a physical portfolio around and faxing people and flicking through a rolodex. (Phew!)

I was in California while I filmed this video. Another bonus of working freelance and being able to manage everything with an internet connection.

Berwick upon Tweed though?

Nestled on the windy North East coast of England, and just 2 miles south of Scotland, its well-connected train station allows you to reach London in 3.5 hours. House prices and rental rates are cheap (complared to London), and so is shopping. Edinburgh and Newcastle upon Tyne are just one hour away. As an illustrator you can get work from both cities. I studied in Newcastle and Sunderland and I was born in Edinburgh and completed my MA in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, so both cities have a special place in my heart.

More and more city-ish things are popping up all the time in Berwick. We now have a food waste cafe, vegan cakes in most local coffee shops, and more delicious coffee than I can drink. There’s Northern Edge, PIlgrim Coffee from nearby Lindisfarne/Holy Island, Lucky Beans and probably a lot more than i’m missing. I’m getting heart palpitations just thinking about it.

Things I Miss About Living in the City

I lived in Berlin for 3 years and I would be a big ol’ liar if I said there weren’t aspects of city life that I miss. There are a few things Berwick isn’t offering right now. A proper cinema. Hot yoga. Anonymity (everyone knows everyone here.) BIG illustrator meetups. We have little ones here but Yo Illo in Berlin was incredible - I went to some meet ups where there were over 30 illustrators drinking and chatting! Flat landscapes that are lovely to ride your bike around on. OK, I don’t think the hills will disappear any time soon so let’s move on.

Dear Internet, I Love You

Click the image to go and watch my video on Instagram. I do speak quite quickly and in a North East/Scottish Borders accent so here is a quick summary of the topics I cover!

  • How Instagram (and the internet in general) has changed my life and enabled me to sell my paintings all over the world, as well as accessing opportunities *despite* my rural location.

  • Building an online community and a real life community, and the benefits of both.

  • How I got started using the internet for illustration and networking (a blog, back in 2008.)

  • TIPS:
    -Share your work, share your work, share your work
    -Chat and make friends with other people online and have fun
    -BE NICE
    -Make work for yourself, not just for clients/briefs.

What about you? Has the internet changed how you work?

How Instagram (and the internet in general) has changed my life and enabled me to sell my paintings all over the world, as well as accessing opportunities * despite * my rural location.  Building an online community  and  a real life community, and the benefits of both.  How I got started using the internet for illustration and networking (a blog, back in 2008.)  TIPS: -Share your work, share your work, share your work -Chat and make friends with other people online and have fun -BE NICE -Make work for yourself, not just for clients/briefs.