A post about being an illustration graduate.

The moment I left university I knew that it was going to be hard getting a job that I truly enjoyed. I had just spent three years studying a subject I was deeply passionate about and no regular job could replace that passion. Yet after studying a BA degree in Illustration for three years and literally putting my entire being into it, the advice of an agent was to spend the next year concentrating on improving my portfolio. From then, I knew that I wasn’t going to be one of the ‘lucky ones’ to get a job in design, illustration or anything creative straight out of University. Even though I learnt a lot about who I am and how to be an illustrator through those three years, I still have a lot of learning to do. 

The idea of spending a whole year on improving was 50% exciting and 50% terrifying. I no longer had the support of my student loan, my tutors or my studio space and I felt like I no longer had the luxury of time. In a perfect world I would take a year off and live in a nice 1 bed flat with no rent and an amazing work space - I would concentrate solely on improving my work and making a name for myself. Unfortunately realism settles in and you realise you need to get the regular job you have no passion for just to survive and pay off all that money you borrowed. 

Two days after I moved back into my parents house, my Mum had managed to get me an interview where she works and the following week I had a job. I’d do extra hour, extra shifts and have to  squeeze in illustration work around the regular job and the back and forth trips to see my partner, who now lives an hour and a half away instead of living in the same house as me. 

Two months into this lifestyle I’d been forced to take on, it was September and surely time to return to my normal life as a university student and start another academic year. Alas no. That moment came and went and I was still mindlessly spending my days working in retail. The only time I returned to my university lifestyle was for a brief 48 hours to graduate. This was when I realised I was living an alien existence. I was moving around unknowingly wasting hours and months doing things I didn’t enjoy and I was doing this simply because it was easy.  

The day after my graduation I went into work and asked to reduce my hours. They were surprised that after only 3 months I needed to adjust my life, one of my colleagues jokingly said ‘wow we’ve managed to crack you early’. And they had. And I was elated. 

Now, as I write this, I am able to concentrate on making illustration my job and making my regular job my thing on the side. When I left university I thought it would be fine and when it wasn’t I caved in, I let it defeat me. Moving home from university was hard. Being told you have a lot left to learn at the end of your degree is hard. But it’s okay, because it does get a lot easier. The things you learn at university slowly begin to trickle into everyday practice and you have little moments when you realise ‘hey [insert course tutor name here] taught me that’. Then you think, I can do this.

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