Hands Not Thumbs /// 006 /// Izzy Wedderburn

Posted by Tom Dear on

DB
So Izzy, you're an illustrator who's found rapid success, particularly on the South Coast over the last year or so? How did the journey start?

IW
So my design journey started through the first COVID lockdown. My sister was a high level rower at the time and wanted some t-shirts made for her club to boost moral! I had nothing much to do at the time, like a lot of people, so I created some illustrations for her as a fun little project. The design was of the river that she rowed on in Oxfordshire; a map view with all the landmarks they row past. These went down super well at the club, I think I sold around 100 in the end!

I then got contacted by other rowing clubs in the South to do the same as they loved the idea. So I just started creating different map designs for different rowing clubs which was so fun! Then I guess it just grew from there very organically. I realise looking back that that first commission really initiated the flare I now have for illustration and graphic design – the belief I could actually create something. After that, I was contacted by some local companies and brands who wanted logos and illustrations and a few prints, as they liked the playfulness of my work. I was learning on my feet, I didn’t know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator, I just had to figure it out along the way! It was all part of the journey, and I loved it for that reason.

DB
Nice. So you were winging it basically! Why do you think illustration is so important to you?

IW
So, it's sounds a little bit cringy... but illustration and design makes me the best version of myself. I come from a very scientific background, at school I studied science based subjects, and grew up with medical parents, so it was quite an unexpected pathway. Having that time and space to think over lockdown really helped show the creative within me that had been hiding over the years. I can spend hours and hours drawing (for personal projects or commissions) and it doesn't feel like work to me! I'm so grateful to have found something that makes me so motivated and excited in my life. I just really enjoy it, it makes me who I am.

DB
So illustration during lockdown was more of an escape than anything else?

IW
Definitely. I think a lot of people didn't know what to do with themselves and I was one of them. So when I started designing the t-shirts for my sister, it was just so eye opening to me. I hadn't ever thought about doing anything like freelance illustration before. I'd always had an interest in art and design, but not on a professional level. So being able to hide away and draw and escape was a big boost for me.

DB
Your illustration style is very recognizable, where do you get your inspiration from?

IW
I get inspiration from lots of places, especially from the outdoors, I love taking trips on my gravel bike, or being in the ocean. I’m also inspired by artists who don’t just use digital methods to make their work. I love the work by Russ Pope, for his natural use of ink on a paintbrush. Also Ty Williams’ work is so fun, it doesn’t take illustrating too seriously! I love that organic way of drawing that you don’t get on a digital platform. Which is why I like creating designs which have a more natural element to them. I’m really just getting started with illustration and my style is still evolving.

DB
So has anything come along the way that you weren't expecting? Or anything that has surprised you?

IW
Probably the community of like-minded creatives. I had no idea of this ‘creative world’ before I started Izzy Weds, but I've met some really lovely people along the way. Speaking with other artists and designers through Instagram or at events; it's just so lovely to feel like I’m part of a collective of people with the same goal in mind. It’s a super supportive environment, and it gives me a boost to keep going...there's a lot of love out there!

DB
I agree, as you said, you seem to be thriving with these creative communities, particularly on the south coast, everywhere you look, you see some of your work, which leads nicely to my next question! You're still so early on in your Illustrator journey, yet, it seems like you’ve experience rapid success! You can spot your work everywhere from barbers to coffee shops. What have you learned so far? And how are you taking the experience going forward?

IW
Probably that being freelance is super hard! It is tough as many freelancers will know, work often ebbs and flows, sometimes you get lots of commissions all at the same time, followed by really quite periods. This is something I am learning to work with and will have to get used to. I've also learnt so much in terms of talking to clients and communicating ideas properly with them, which is so crucial in the creative industry. It’s all so new and something I had no experience in before, so I’m just learning as I go and enjoying the process.

Going forward, I’ve recently enrolled at University to study Graphic Design, I really want to broaden my skills and learn things properly...not just ‘winging it’ and really turn this passion into a long term career.

 

DB
As you know, I come from a Graphic Design background too, I think it's such a good base to educate yourself in, then finding your niche. Do you have any goals after your degree?

IW
I definitely want to keep freelancing, but I'd love to get some industry experience as a Graphic Designer or Illustrator too. I'd love to work for some groovy, smaller, independent brands or agencies; people that align with my values.

DB
Groovy is a word that I haven't heard to describe something in a very long time! So typically you create more digital illustrations, however recently I've seen you've been experimenting with murals, was it your garden shed you took over?!

IW
Yes! Again, it was a summer lockdown project. I thought the shed was looking sad and needed a bit of makeover so I decided to paint a big flower mural in yellow onto it. I hadn't done anything like this  before, painting on a different material other than paper, and being outside. Learning the process of how to do create artwork on such a big scale is a real skill and something I probably hadn’t quite appreciated properly at the time. I hope I can keep practicing this and use in the future on a professional basis, but yeah, that shed project was just for fun...thanks Mum!



DB
So out of all the disciplines you're developing, Which would you say lights you up the most?

IW
I like creating things that actually become something real, something that's not just on a screen. I love to showcase my work on Instagram, but what really excites me is walking past a shop and seeing a print I made hanging on the wall, or a poster for an event! I recently did some hand painted skateboards for a local barbers, which was so much fun. Seeing them hung up on the wall is far more satisfying to me than putting out content on social media. I sometimes feel people maybe don't appreciate the craft as much online; a design may hold your attention for a few seconds, then you just scroll through and it's gone. Making tangible pieces of art really gets me going and is my motivation.

DB
I think people feel like art is so sterile online now, it's exciting to see things like vinyl, art prints, coffee table books etc all making a comeback.

IW
I agree, there's definitely a resurgence of old school methods. I think social media is definitely changing, especially in terms of what its purpose is. Things such as Instagram reels which are being pushed harder. For creatives I think there’s a bit of kick back to wanting to actually appreciate and celebrate art that you don’t have to make a Tik-Tok dance to!

DB
Do you have a purpose for your social media? Or is it just is it more about just documenting what you've been doing?

IW
I get quite a lot of my commission's from social media, Instagram particularly, I've also got a little Squarespace website, but I think for me it's more a natural timeline of my journey. I do some work, I put it out there, I don't overthink it. I think social media can be used really positively in terms of branding and advertising, but for me, it's more just a bit of fun. That's how I started it, just putting some designs up and seeing what happens.

DB
I think that comes across in your work. It is clearly coming from a place of joy. It feels very free and just really enjoyable to sort of go through and, experience! Keep up the great work, I look forward to seeing how your career progresses!

....

To see more of Izzy's work, head to her Instagram page here or her website here

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