Solo or Group

There is an important decision that every illustrator most make; it can be dictated by working methods, by financial considerations or by personal choice and it is about the location of the studio, For some the studio will be, at its simplest, the kitchen table or the back bedroom, while for others it may be a rented desk space within a design company, or a shared loft-style studio in a cool part of town. Finding the place that best suits your needs is fundamental to creating an environment conducive to creative working. Setting L|p a studio can be challenging and exciting, but planning ahead is crucial.

Freelance illustration is a predominately solo discipline; much of the work is undertaken in a space away from the client and delivered at the end of the process. Until email became the normal mode of delivery, illustrators tended to migrate towards the cities where most commissions were likely to be forthcoming. If they chose not to and lived and worked in another part of the country, they adjusted their working methods to allow for delivery times. Although email has made delivery an instanl option and the mobile phone has ensured that communication can be a constant, many illustrators still prefer lo work in urban areas, This may be related to the need or desire to meet face-to-face with the art director or designer on a project, or it may go back to issues of self-promotion and the ease in getting to and from presentations laden with a portfolio.

Deciding on a solo or group studio is determined by choice. Many illustrators demand the solace and silence of a space thai is uninterrupted by fellow artists, whilst others find it impossible to concentrate without the bu*Z and noise of a shared space. It is wise not to rush into the excitement of creating a group studio without having had some experience of working in one. Equally, spending time and money converting a spare bedroom into a studio, if completely unused to working alone, can be a commitment and undertaking that proves lo be unnecessary.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of studio set-up and both need some careful consideration. Working alongside others can provide an environment that is inspiring, interesting and supportive. It can also be off-putting and disturbing as well as frustrating, For those that choose lo work alone, the benefits of the solo studio may be in the freedom and personal space that the situation allows. Drawbacks, however, include having no face-to-face, one-to-one conversations or feedback about an idea or work-in-progress from a sympathetic ear. Hours may pass without direct communication with another individual, although for many this situation may be a positive asset.

For those who choose to join or set up a group studio, having costs of shared equipment and facilities can be financially beneficial and can lead to greater access to technology that may be out of reach for the solo trader. Buying one very good digital camera, renting a photocopier, installing a mini-kitchen or investing in a table tennis table are far simpler spread across a group.

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