Email correspondence with Nick Diggory

Australian illustrator Nick Diggory is recognised for his outstanding characterisation and depicting scenes in ordinary day life. I discovered him recently, and needless to say I absolutely love his work. The Brexit illustration is considered one of my favourites from his work. Here is the link to his website. I want to thank Nick Diggory for his time to answer my questions.

1. Why did you become an illustrator?

Nick: “I was working in an ad agency back in the late 70’s and was nominated as ‘the illustrator’ whenever a job came in that needed some character creating. Maybe I was the only one in the studio that could actually draw! I was doing so much freelance work on the side, I thought I’d see what it’d be like to work for myself and whether or not I could actually make a living out of it.”

2. How long does it take for you to create a character?

Nick “From reading a brief to first draft can be anything from half an hour to half a day. Some days it just flows, other days, not. A lot depends on the brief. Some clients know exactly what they want, others give you a free hand which is always more fun.”

3. What do you enjoy most about your illustration career?

Nick: “I can work from anywhere. After going ‘digital’ in the 90’s, I moved to Australia. I left there a couple of years ago and travelled around Europe in a motorhome. Now I live in south west France. I’ve been lucky enough to  keep most of my clients wherever I’ve been residing.”

4. What would you consider your weaknesses and strengths in illustration ?

Nick: “Weaknesses – I get bored easily, so I don’t like projects that last more than a couple of days. Also, the kettle is always tempting me away from the Mac! Strengths – I never miss a deadline. I know the pressures that people working in ad agencies and publishing houses are under, so when they give you a deadline, that’s when they want the job for. My work ethic is, early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.”

5. Looking back on life, is there anything you would do differently?

Nick: “No. Quite happy with the way things have turned out.”

 6. Which books have you enjoyed illustrating the most? Why?

Nick: “It’s nearly always the last one I did. I’ve just finished a promotional book for an insurance company in Canada based on real quotations from the CEO’s mother! Odd but fun.”

7. How long does it usually take to get a book cover ready for completion?

Nick: “Anything from a long day to a week. It’s much quicker now with computers, but ‘back in the day’ it would normally take about a week. Then you’d have to send it by post to the client and keep your fingers crossed that it actually arrived.”

8. What advice do you have for people starting a career in illustration?

Nick: “Be prepared to burn a lot of midnight oil, never, ever miss a deadline and never give up!”

9. Throughout your illustration career, was there a time when you struggled to get commissions?

Nick: “Many. When I started illustrating, there were only a couple of hundred of us doing it in the whole of the U.K., so work was plentiful, fees were higher and word of mouth spread easily. It’s easier to advertise now, but there of literally millions of other illustrators to compete with.”

10.  Is there a particular medium you enjoy working with more than others ?

Nick: “All digital now. I wouldn’t say I enjoy it more than the traditional methods, but it’s a lot cleaner and a hell of a lot more convenient.”

11. Which illustration projects are you most interested in?

Nick: “Characters. That’s really what I do best and that’s been the mainstay of my work for thirty odd years.”

12. How do you start working on a new project?

Nick: “Still a pencil and a sketch pad.”

13. How do you obtain commissions from people?

Nick: “Word of mouth generally, or they may see my work online. I also have a couple of agents that come up with some great work.”

14. What would you do if a client rejected all drafts you presented ?

Nick: “Not much you can do really. Occasionally the client changes the brief half way through a job and the new brief might not be suitable for me. Sometimes they’ll offer a rejection fee. Often not. You just have to suck it up and move on.”

15.  What lessons have you learnt from being an illustrator?

Nick: “You’re only as good as your last job.”

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