where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
Born in Scotland, raised in Dorset and after a 12 year stint in Brighton I'm back in Dorset. Have been illustrating for 15 years - and the odd grey hair is starting to show.

how has the industry changed since you started?
Deadlines have become much shorter and fees haven't risen much - The computer has had a profound effect on the industry. I can live any where in the world but my deadline is always yesterday.

how have you as an illustrator changed to meet those changes?
An ability to work to tight deadlines has evolved, working editorially means I enjoy fast turnaround and instant results, which suits my temperament as I get bored quite easily.

what specific challenges are faced by UK illustrators - in regards to working w/ North American clients / rates being different over here etc.
The US market is huge but also there does seem to be a huge array of new illustrators coming onto the market every year - the choice of new talent on offer is incredible so getting yourself noticed is even more of a difficult task. One solution is an agent in the US they have a direct line to a lot of the zines over there and art-buyers - but that all costs 30%
the UK market seems a bit more difficult to break into - what are your thoughts on that?
I think that's down to the individual illustrator and not the country - I often hear that US market is difficult to break into.

It seems like you've had reps off and on during your career - although it might be off now...or on - what role to reps play for you / what should illustrators expect from a rep?
At present I'm represented in North America by one agent and another in Europe chiefly in the UK. When I first joined my UK rep I foolishly expected the work to just come rolling in - which it didn't. An agent is only as good as the artist it reps - so if you can get the work yourself then do so and if all the paperwork becomes too much then maybe take on a rep - but don't expect them to suddenly get you all your work. Work Generates Work

your beautiful work always has a wonderful conceptual edge, can you tell me about your brainstorm session / how you go about solving problems and coming up with ideas?
As I've said, for me the idea is king and the 'rendering' of that idea is the fun bit. Once I've nailed the idea then I can enjoy the process of creativity. But the idea is sometimes the hardest or easiest thing to engage with. It involves reading the text, digesting the text, digesting my lunch and 2 coffees and then drawing and writing, more drawing than writing after all the image must be able to stand on it's own without any explanation. A rule of thumb that I follow is that when I send a rough sketch to a client, the text that I write to accompany and explain the idea should be just one sentence of around 12 words. If I'm writing a paragraph simply to explain the sketch then the sketch and idea have obviously failed - I'm in the job of communicating visually. Quite simple really.

what role does colour play in your work and for you personally - because it seems to be a big one...
Colour is my one battle - I struggle and agonise over colour combinations, it's an eternal enigma that I grapple with everyday. I'm obsessed. But when it works I'll use it to death. It's the same with music, I find a track that I like and I'll consume it voraciously over a week and then can't listen to it ever again. It's that whole boredom thing.

thoughts on working traditionally vs. working digitally?
I try not to get hung up about technique - the work is the work despite 'how' it was created. The end product justifies the means.

ever do any really bad jobs when you were getting started just to get your foot in the door?
I did a piece for the Daily Mail, a rather right wing fascist kind of tabloid paper - I thought no one in their right mind would see it but of course the next week as I finished giving a lecture about my work a student stood up at the end and waved the offending piece at me saying "I've seen your work!" So you never know.

what are your thoughts on the state of the industry, especially amidst this global recession?
The industry is of course like all others tightening it's belt - so as an illustrator you need to stand out. Lifestyle and fashion illustration may suffer so more authorial work with it's own distinct view and voice will survive.

aside from illustrating how are you spending your time?
Camping on beaches with my wife, son and friends cooking food enjoying the sunset - weather permitting of course - this is England after all.

what are you loving about illustration right now?

does the continuous crop of new illustrators ever freak you out?
No not really - I take inspiration from their passion and drive

advice for new / upcoming illustrators?
Always focus on the work and challenge yourself to a new experience everyday.

advice for old / established ones?
see more of Paul's excellent work here: www.paulblow.com
thanks Paul!!

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