Parts of the Process — The Guardian Editorial Illustration by Michael Driver
This article was published as part of our soft launch in 2016.
It’s rare to see a young creative’s transition from university to working life quite as smooth as Michael Driver made it look. In the twelve months since graduating from the illustration course at Kingston University he was inundated with work, from Runner’s World and Midwives Magazine to The Sunday Times and The Wall Street Journal. Working all hours he achieved what many would hope to do so in their first five years, here he takes us through the challenge of turning around an editorial illustration for The Guardian in little over 24 hours…
So most of my jobs start with an email either from me to the client or the client to me. I hunt for work quite a lot, if I’m not working it’s important for me to look for work, so I send a lot of emails out hoping that maybe I’ll catch a job once in a while. Most commissions start like this.
Usually fee, usage, an outline of the topic and the size of the image is in the first email along with turn around time which is probably one of the most important things. From that you can start to gage if the money and topic is good and if the fee is representative of the amount of work the client is asking you to do. After everything is agreed upon and I’ve accepted the job the copy is then sent over.
If you're lucky sometimes you get sent the full copy, other times due to the tight turn arounds with editorial you can sometimes just get the first paragraph or maybe even just a brief summary of the article from the editor. I’ll then usually work up a minimum of three roughs, sometimes I’ll do more if I have more ideas for the image.
It's important to highlight here that this project had a day turn around, on average you do three roughs initially and if the client wants changes or doesn’t like any of the initial roughs you do more. Because the deadline was so quick there wasn't much back and forth in regards to compositions.
I probably read the article a good three or four times before starting to work up roughs. I try and work out the theme or the important part of the article before jumping in and sketching. I usually spend anywhere from half an hour to two or three hours on roughs, a lot of the time it can depend a lot on what the theme of the article is and how familiar the topic is to me.
I always have a favourite rough and try and send off a selection of roughs that I really like. I never try to send a composition that I don’t like because if I don’t like it at its inception I won't like it when it's finished, simple as that!
This image I only had a day to get done so time really was of the essence but usually I never like to work in a rush. I really like labouring over work and adding more little details but a lot of the time when working in editorial this goes out of the window unless you're prepared to lose a lot of sleep.
This image was sent over as a jpeg (CMYK). I never send over psd or layered files, I don’t like the idea that the client can make tweaks once it’s out of my hands.
When the image is sent off I usually wait for some sort of approval from the art director, in this case I didn’t invoice client as The Guardian invoices you. But I would usually invoice the client straight away, the sooner you invoice the quicker you get paid. If I’m really fond of the image I then go out and buy the hard copy of the magazine or newspaper!