From Stock Graphics Novice to Pro in 2 Years

What Illustrator Jeremy Child Has Learned From His Career Path

When Jeremy Child first stumbled across the world of stock graphics, he had no idea that just two years later he’d be supporting himself entirely as a stock graphic designer.

Paying the Bills

At the time, the British-born illustrator better known as “The Artifex Forge” was working at a major publishing house.

“I originally trained as an illustrator but struggled to find enough work to make a good living. I took a job as a junior art worker to help pay the bills and then quickly moved on to a role as a children’s book designer at a novelty book publisher.”

He specialized in making pop-up mechanics and unusual formats for pre-school children, but says the design side of the job was quite limiting. So after a few years in the industry, Child felt his creativity stymied.

Getting Started in Stock Graphics

That’s when he stumbled across the world of stock graphics and became hooked.

“I discovered GraphicRiver, which gave me the perfect opportunity to explore a greater range of design styles than my day job. I soon began working on stock graphics products every lunch hour and regularly after work! Producing stock graphics in my spare time became a really important creative outlet, allowing me to grow as a designer.”
Jeremy was inspired by Shaun Tan’s The Rabbits

Going Full-Time

Things might have just continued like this indefinitely, but then something unexpected happened which turned Child’s professional life on its head. His wife received funding for a number of research projects, which would take them to South Africa, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Chile and Argentina, and so he had to quit his job. Suddenly, he had the time to make creating stock graphics his full-time job.

Of his journey from stock graphics novice to pro, Child says:

“I’m really proud that I’ve achieved two years as a completely self-supported stock graphics artist. I wasn’t sure if it was even possible when I started out!”

Learning New Lessons

He has, however, had to unlearn many of the habits he developed during his previous job in a high-pressure environment.

“I’ve had to learn to work more slowly and not rush to get a product out. Some work comes together in a few days, but with other projects it takes months, or even years, for the right ideas to fall into place.”

When he rushed projects, he found that his revenue wasn’t increasing even though he was producing more. He’s now found that if he gives each project the time it requires, rather than setting rigid deadlines, it results in a better product, increasing sales and resulting in a less stressful working practice.

“My approach to work is now a lot more relaxed, and this makes it a lot more pleasurable too, but it took time to develop the confidence to slow down!”
Jeremy was inspired by Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing

It is this slow and steady approach, combined with a style all of his own, that sets Child’s work apart from that of other designers.

“I was encouraged to paint and draw from an early age. Painting, pen and ink were always my favorites. At University I started experimenting with texture by building up thick layers of acrylic and working into it with knives, sandpaper and just about anything that could produce interesting surfaces and patterns.”

Child believes that this unique style of painting, his love of details and cross-sections have all deeply influencing his approach to design. In recent years, he hasn’t had the time or space to paint, but he says digital art has been a pretty good substitute, because his experiences as a painter have been useful in creating his products and their screenshots.

Though Child often references natural forms in his work, they’re always transformed through his imagination.

“Currently the key themes in my work engage with the natural world but they are often created through converting the man-made textures that I find into artistic and design tools.”

Child credits his new-found nomadic lifestyle with keeping him stimulated and enhancing his design aesthetic.

“I think the world around me in general influences what I do — it’s unusual for me to leave my house and not return having photographed an interesting texture, found an unusual colour combination or thought up an idea for a new product. Being on the move so much means that I’ve been living in some unusual places, and they all feed into what I do.”

He also finds that the time he spends not working is as critical to his process as the time he spends working.

“Ideas often just pop into my head when I’m not looking for them. I can get inspired sometimes by some really random things that I see on the street, on billboards, in shops… anywhere really!”

If you want to see more of Jeremy Child’s fantastic designs, check out his profile on Envato Elements.

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