Email correspondence with Heather Horsley

Hello, fellow illustrators and designers and welcome to another blog. Throughout the illustration course, we are encouraged to speak to illustrators and others who work within the creative industry. Throughout the course, I have enjoyed asking illustrators different questions, about there work in practice. Which in turn, will hopefully influence my own.

East Midlands illustrator, Heather Horsley is someone I have admired for a while. Especially her traditional printing techniques. Heather’s traditional printing techniques express an unique forth front within the regards of illustration. I want to thank Heather for her email correspondence with her, as she was quite busy with commissions at the time. I would encourage anyone that is reading my blog, to observe and research more about Heather Horsley. Heather Horsley resonated with me well, because I also seek to go into the traditional illustration agency. Here is heather Horsley’s website if you want to find more information.

Here is the email correspondence . Hope you enjoy reading

Heather Horsley, Flora 3.

Why did you become an illustrator?

Heather: ‘Right I have an hour to do this in, I’ll do my best to answer as much as possible.

1. If I’m honest at the age of 18/19 years I attended the local college studying a foundation course, 10 disciplines were explored and while I was here, I met a lovely lady called Penny. She got offered a trainee job at a fairly local agency in Ashby, discipline in Greeting cards etc. She left college early and then while i was coming to the end of my one year course she told me there was another vacancy within the agency, doing the same thing. I jumped at the chance, as the greetings industry was interesting to me. I left just before the course finished, my dad wasn’t prepared to support me financially to go to Uni anyway so this was a fabulous opportunity, that’s how my illustrator career started.’

Heather Horsley, Flora 2

How do you work with difficult clients ?

Heather: ‘Depends on your perspective on difficult clients. I treat all my clients with respect and great communications skills and I expect the same back. I haven’t experienced really bad clients tbh. If I do start to feel frustrated at times I make sure I’m direct with my questions, using clear communication and then this resolves any uneasy feelings.’

3. What is your preferable traditional printing method? Has this improved over time?

Heather ‘For the work i do presently, i use a new Gelli plate printing system. I use this in combination of handrawn/hand-painted and digital software(photoshop). I love to utilise organic printmaking textures with my designs. My whole Dissertation at Uni was on the subject of traditional printmaking within the digital age of Illustration.’

4. What advice do you have for people considering a career in illustration?

Heather: ‘Try to have a strong visual voice if you are considering working within Children’s books, editorial and advertising. If you are considering freelance illustration you need to be a great all round creative business person, including good interpersonal skills, business acumen and be able to promote yourself constantly until you strike up good working relationships with clients and publishing houses etc. Knowing your self worth! This is a huge subject to talk about, this is only a short answer.’

5) What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of being a freelance illustrator ?

Heather ‘I like what this person says and sums how i feel about this subject. Pretty much the same for all freelance illustrators.’

(This image was on the website link that Heather sent me, I have to say
does summarise illustration quite a bit. By Julien Canavezes

6. Are commissions easy to obtain? Where there times when you struggled to obtain a commission?

Heather: ‘Yes, if I’m honest this is the hardest thing about being an Illustrator. The first few years were a real struggle and times felt like giving up but I persevered. You have to be tenacious, driven and focused. Not to be lazy.’

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

Heather: ‘ Mmmm tricky question….my strengths are pen/ink line work and i can paint traditionally with gouache and acrylics, feel at ease with Screen-printing and i’d say my weakness would be sophisticated trad printmaking techniques such as etching/aquatint. I haven’t explored with Lithography or woodcut.’

8. Is there a certain brief that you enjoyed creating the most ? Why?

Heather: ‘Yes a Harrods bag design last year. Loved it, it was a jungle themed piece, they let me have quite a free reign and i loved creating all the fine line drawings in pencil and black inks. One of my favourites thats for sure. There are others but that one springs to mind straight away.’

9. What Traditional printing techniques are you considering working with in the future? 

Heather ‘I keep mulling over in my mind about trying linocuts again. I only dabbled with this technique briefly years ago with Greendoor printmaking Studios and didn’t take it further. Think i might just give it a go if i have time of course.’

10. How do you see the digital printing industry in the future for products and advertising?

Heather: ‘I think there will always be a need for printing for products and advertising’

11. Throughout all your exhibitions, which one is your favourite? Why? 

Heather ‘ I’ve not done many in recent years as I’m too busy commercially now. But one of my favourites would be the Derby Hospital Greendoor Printmaking Studios joint exhibition. My Vertebrates screen printed images were included and went down really well, had great reviews and sold a few prints from it, raising my profile in Derby and Burton as an Illustrator. Then gaining new contacts and new customers too.’

I could expand on some of these questions but i think you have enough to go with. Let me know how you get on.

Cheers and good luck

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