Union Street Interview

I was asked for an interview whilst I was based at Union Street, a collective co-working space located in the heart of Sheffield. The final product below, may give you an Idea what I’m about.


Stuart Herrington is the name and talent behind SJHIllustration.  After recently deciding to go freelance, Stuart now offers a service creating unique illustrations and images for those who might not have the time or skills. So, where did it all begin?

How would you describe your illustrating style?

My main style is quite cartoony, usually aimed at a family friendly audience and it is clean edged, fun and colourful. I add depth to the illustrations using textures from photographs, often adding shadows to make the illustrations seem less 2D. The process can be quite technical.

The other style I use has a similar process but is often quicker and simpler. I’ve been creating editorial illustrations for newspapers and online articles, as part of my portfolio. This style of work varies depending on the size of the publication and its budget, so it was necessary to create a way of working faster without comprising the style or quality.

How did you become an illustrator?

I’ve always drawn and been artistic. After school I enrolled onto an Art course, of which I only finished the first 3 months before I went onto other things, including computer work, the Territorial Army and Joinery. I then found myself enrolled on a two-year Access course in Art and Design, surrounded by adult’s much older than me that had all decided to pursue their passion after a career in other sectors. The course let you branch off into a discipline for the last part of each year and though Fine Art seemed like the obvious choice, I felt more connected with illustration.

What were you doing before you decided to go freelance?

I worked in a pub in my village where I’d met a lot of people and after graduating a customer suggested that I go to another pub as they were looking for someone to design a new logo and produce graphic design work. They employed me as their Marketing manager, dealing with bands, managing social networks, creating menu’s, adverts’ and point of sale media. The graphic design, marketing and organisational skills I learnt from this job convinced me I had the knowledge to start up freelance.

How important is it to you to have complete creative control of your work?

Not long after I graduated I had an interview for an illustration job. It was really good pay for a junior position. When I got there I realised that it wasn’t want I wanted to do. It was their style and you had to follow everything that they did. I would just have been drawing other people’s drawings, not reflecting my own style. You have to put things into perspective – being freelance you can still earn plenty of money, it might take longer but that freedom is much more valuable.

Do you think that working with other creative’s is beneficial for a start-up business?

Yes – many people who are starting up want to give their business an identity so it’s good for them to have someone who they can consult or work with in the creative industry. It’s an important perspective, if their identity and brand starts off strong then they’re more likely to have a refined idea of their business, which could help with a consistent and potentially more successful venture.

How do you deal with potential customers on a budget?

I like to try to work to what they can afford. My prices are respectful of the industry and fair to both me and the clients. It’s important to be upfront with project costs and how you work, so then you can calculate roughly how much time to put into it, often you’ll give a little extra to make the work better, in hopes of a happy client who might consider you for further projects.

There’s always going to be people out there who want stuff for free. Sometimes people don’t think about the creative side and see how much work goes into it – it’s a long process in some ways, and you should make everything clear to potential clients, it’s a profession that takes a long time to learn and master, try not to sell yourself short as you have bills to pay too, but It can’t hurt every now and again to help causes and charities close to your heart, which you usually won’t get paid for, but are very rewarding to do.

What would you say to those looking to get into illustration?

Don’t give up; create every day to learn and improve your art. Those that don’t put themselves out there are less likely to get seen and often that’s what separates people from being successful or not. Network with other creatives as much as you can, do classes in different art disciplines or visit galleries. We’re out there and we want to meet you too!


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