Alice Potter illustration Tag

In early February I put a call out on Instagram Stories for your questions for a future Q&A blog post. What have you always wanted to ask an illustrator or freelancer, and you came back to me with some great questions.

Below, I have answered each question in turn, some of which overlap a little. It was a real pleasure to answer such in depth questions from you all.

James: What is the first image I remember that made me want to be an illustrator?

I actually don’t ever remember a particular moment or image that made me want to be an illustrator. I fell into the career after my studies, however, I always liked picture books growing up and my mum was an excellent artist and textile designer too.

Lea: How do you price work for clients?

This is a broad and difficult question to answer, Lea. Mostly, it comes with experience. I will also suggest joining the AOI so that you can gain access to their pricing survey which will give you a fair idea of how to price for a variety of projects in all major markets. Be aware also, that designing with an agent or studio means that you only get a certain percentage. If you are representing yourself, my suggestion is to alway price higher and be willing to negotiate a little, but NEVER undersell yourself or YOUR skills.
Q&A: Everything You Wanted To Know About My Illustration Career - Alice Potter
Michelle: Which MATS class is most useful for someone starting out as an illustrator?
For those that don’t know. Make Art That Sells is an online collection of e-courses run by US agent, Lilla Rogers. Courses available include MATS A, MATS B, Home decor, Illustrating Children’s Books, Bootcamp, and new this year a bunch of other courses including one about illustrating faces. I have taken each class once, and for beginners I suggest starting with either Bootcamp or MATS A which covers markets including fabric, home decor, children’s books, wall art and gift.
That course boosted my confidence back in 2014 when I took it, and I ended up selling one design I did via a studio, and got many jobs off of the work completed in the class too. I recommend this class to a lot of new illustrators and designers.
Besides MATS, what tips or resources would you recommend for building a portfolio from scratch?
I have a written a blog post here about key themes you should have in your portfolio if interested in art licensing.
I would also recommend looking at sites like Emily Kiddy, Patternbank and Print and Pattern and LovePrintStudio for trend insights. You can purchase well priced trend books from Emily Kiddy and on Patternbank too. I use these regularly for my work.
If going into editorial, make sure you have illustrations of people as well as objects.
Look at whats out there in magazines, books and on blogs and websites, and interpret the perpetual themes in your own way.
What is something you know now that you wish you did when starting out?
To be confident and assertive from the start. Nerves really can hold you back in life.
Q&A: Everything You Wanted To Know About My Illustration Career - Black and white drawings - Alice Potter
Hally: Have you always wanted to go into illustration and did you naturally find a style that sets you apart from other artists, or did you find that difficult?
The honest answer to this is no, Hally. I studied Textile Design in London, and despite studying this I wasn’t sure where I fitted. My work was considered more illustrative than my peers, but I didn’t really know, or see illustration as a career option. It took a few years to find my own path into the subject, and many more years after that to find a ‘style’ that suited me. However, even that changes often.
What do you enjoy most about being a freelancer and is there anything you find difficult?
I enjoy the flexibility of everyday life that working for myself brings. I can start a little later, take an afternoon off, meet a friend, or go to a museum, because I will always make up the time in my own way. Some days are harder than others, and I am particularly prone to procrastination. I find though, that the act of doing one creative thing, then inspires me to do more, and suddenly, a whole day has passed and I have been busy and completed a lot of tasks.
Ashley: What sort of income streams do I have?
This is a great question and one that I think is important to answer. As a self employed illustrator income is key. I don’t have a monthly salary and haven’t for many years. My income now comes in from many different sources which I have to keep track of.
These include:
– Shop sales – Etsy and Not On The Highstreet
– Commissions – Books, magazines and other
– Licensing deals – Greeting cards etc from my agent
– Monthly or quarterly royalties – stock images, print on demand sites etc
– Occasional face-to-face markets
– Instagram ads
In 2018 I am also considering other potential income streams including a possible online course.
Amy: How did you reach the volume of followers that you have? Are there any steps you took?
I presume, Amy, that you are enquiring about my number of social media followers, particulary in Instagram?
In November 2014, I had just over 2000 and decided to take a class by Hilary Rushford on building your Instagram. I don’t know if it was that helpful, but after implementing a few tips, I noticed a steady increase in numbers. Posting regularly, and being consistent is key too. I know that my friend, Emma Block does a workshop in London occasionally about this very subject.
When did you have a breakthrough moment in your illustration career?
One of my best and earliest big commissions was with fashion brand Ted Baker, and I consider that to be a turning point in my career. It got my name out there more, and it was great to see my art in stores worldwide. Moments like that are great, but may not happen for many years for most illustrators. You have to treat every commission you get as special, and put 100% into each job. Only put out there work which you ultimately want to do.
Is it enough to rely on illustration as a career?
YES! If you don’t undersell yourself, and you must consider leveraging your art and skills across many different markets.
Q&A: Everything You Wanted To Know About My Illustration Career - Alice Potter
Fiona: What is your experience with different illustration agents?
Kath: Agents and representation. Do you have any advice?
Kath and Fiona, I hope you don’t mind but I bundled your questions together as they were the same subject.
Broadly speaking, it’s a real challenge to find the right agent, and so many new illustrators, like me at the time, will sign with anyone who flatters them even a little. Many times, you may not be suited to the client base of the agency, or maybe there are too many artists for you to be noticed. Maybe, you should just represent yourself, learn everything you can about pricing and contracts, and be done with the idea that only illustrators with agents are the successful ones. This is simply not true. I know many, unrepresented illustrators who are incredibly successful!
I can’t say if agency representation is right for you, but don’t dive in, do some research, speak to other artists and see who their clients are.
Tenille: How did you go about getting representation? Did your agent find you or did you solicit numerous agencies?
Tenille, please read the above response to Kath and Fiona’s question about representation. In terms of finding one, I was not approached directly, and have always undertaken it myself to email agencies I admire with a submission. Always follow the website guidelines for submissions if there are any.
Lesley: Your style is really original. What has inspired you and have you always drawn this way?
My style has changes a lot over time. Getting a Wacom tablet helped me to develop my handwriting, and last year I also got and iPad Pro which has enabled me to develop my style further and also to be more efficient with my designing.
Thanks to everyone who contributed questions to this post. I really enjoyed answering them and I hope they may be of use to some of you out there.

Back in the Summer of 2017 I was commissioned by Abacus Cards to create some bespoke lettering that will be made into a repeat pattern design for birthday gift wrap and tags.

Initially, I came up with about 4 design ideas, including two feminine designs, and two more gender neutral ideas, until this one eventually was chosen. We  then began developing and finalising the final design together collaboratively. From sketch to final art,  it was a pleasure to work with the team at Abacus to develop this gift wrap design.

Abacus Cards - Gift Wrap - Birthday - Pattern Design - Alice Potter

Abacus Cards - Gift Wrap and Tags - Birthday - Pattern Design - Alice Potter

The final product is a 500mm x 700 mm gift wrap with the lettering print and two matching gift tags.

If you would like a similar bespoke piece for your brand, please contact my art licensing agents, Advocate Art.

See the original artwork on my portfolio HERE.

Abacus Cards - Gift Wrap - Birthday - Pattern Design - Alice Potter

Licensing your art can be a lucrative business decision. It allows your art to be leveraged over many different markets, and the art licensing world is an exciting place to share your art.
In my own experience, I have been lucky enough to license my art for cards and gift wrap and know how important it is to keep your portfolio stocked with these go to themes.
With my new agents, Advocate Art, my artwork is easily available for brands to pick up for a variety of product, but you don’t need an agent to succeed in this field either.
Listed below are the themes I believe should be in YOUR portfolio NOW:
  • Christmas
  • Valentines
  • Easter
  • Halloween
Cute Snowmen Greeting Card Design by Alice PotterOCCASSIONS:
  • Mothers Day
  • Fathers Day
  • Graduation
  • New Job
  • New Baby
  • Thank You
  • Get Well
Mothers Day Floral Card Design by Alice Potter Illustration
  • Birthday
  • Floral
  • Geometric
Floral Pattern Design for Textiles or Gift Wrap by Alice Potter- art licensing - Pattern designWhen designing for art licensing, try to think of the end product. Greeting cards are best designed in sets of 4 in a 5″ x 7″  format. ALWAYS refer to a card publishers submission guidelines to clarify the format and submission process, as some do differ.
Remember that gift wrap and bags are a huge market, so designing patterns that may coordinate with a card collection immediately makes that collection more valuable.
Everyday floral and geometric are a good addition in this market.
In this design below, I was able to combine lettering and the design of a stripe to create this pattern licensed to Abacus Cards in 2017.
Abacus Cards Happy Birthday Gift Wrap design - Art Licensing -  Gift Wrap Design
Character art is very popular in the art licensing world especially characters aimed at a more juvenile market.
Christmas art can be modern in style, but from my experience, colours and icons need to be on the edge of traditional. Think Winter Village, Trees, Snowmen, Baubles etc
The same applies to Valentines art, where hearts, pink and red are key.
Attacking these themes with a fresh eye and in your own style will always bring something new and exciting to the saturated market. A market that is constantly looking to buy new art!
Love Hearts with Polka Dot details by Alice Potter - Art Licensing -  Greeting Card Design
Getting your work out there can be easier than you think. Go shopping and look at the manufacturers and publishers details on the reverse. Go to their website and look to see if they accept submissions. Often you will find a direct email address. If not, fill in the contact form and ask politely who you can contact, or, alternatively, give them a ring.
Send ONLY low res artwork and send it out in an organised way so you don’t get overwhelmed and confused.
With these popular themes in your portfolio, you are sure to get success in the wonderful world of art licensing, and if you are representing yourself and get a little confused about contracts and pricing, I really do recommend joining an illustrators association like the AOI for support and advice.

Introducing the new Olive Owl collection for Trend Lab.

Very early on in 2016 I had the luck of connecting with Trend Lab, a gorgeous online manufacturer and retailer of baby bedding and nursery decor.  It was great to find that they were interested in one of my collections I had done the previous year and so a deal was made.

Roll on a year and a half later and those designs are now a whole range of baby bedding and nursery decor including a quilt and bedding set, a clock, a shelf and a storage caddy and it’s all very cute!

When you work the way I do designing flat illustrations and pattern designs, it’s often hard to imagine anything other than what they are already. Seeing my designs become a 3Dimensional reality for the first time has blown me away. It’s amazing what they have created with so little and I just love that my little Olive Owl will be gracing baby bedrooms in the US for a good long while, I hope. The collection is called Olive Owl and can be brought HERE.

This project is a great example of what a designer and manufacturer can achieve. If you manufacture gift and home ware or stationery, please get in touch with me today. I love sharing my current collections and also enjoy working to commission to create bespoke designs just for you.

Click HERE to find out more.

Olive Owl Baby Nursery Collection For Trend Lab by Alice Potter Illustration

Olive Owl Bedding Collection For Trend Lab

Olive Owl Baby Nursery Collection For Trend Lab by Alice Potter Illustration

Olive Owl Quilt for Trend Lab

Olive Owl Baby Nursery Collection For Trend Lab by Alice Potter Illustration

Olive Owl Storage Caddy for Trend Lab by Alice Potter Illustration


Olive Owl Storage Caddy for Trend Lab

Olive Owl Baby Nursery Collection For Trend Lab by Alice Potter Illustration

Olive Owl Wall Clock for Trend Lab

Olive Owl Baby Nursery Collection For Trend Lab by Alice Potter Illustration

Olive Owl Wall Shelf for Trend Lab

Olive Owl Window Valance for Trend Lab by Alice Potter IllustrationOlive Owl Window Valance for Trend Lab

Original Olive Owl Illustration and Pattern Collection by Alice Potter

Original Illustration

Original Olive Owl Illustration and Pattern Collection by Alice Potter

Original Pattern

Original Olive Owl Illustration and Pattern Collection by Alice Potter

Original Coordinate

I was delighted to work once again with the wonderful team at Aceville publications to create a new stamp kit for issue 305 of Crafts Beautiful Magazine. The theme was Cats and Dogs and I was able to create a really cute collection of animal characters that were suitable for both older women and young children too.

The craft market in general is a really fun market to work within as an artist. A lot of companies are very open to new ideas and on trend designs so it can be quite exciting to get briefs like this.

I have really enjoyed seeing the final product for this project, which came out recently in all good newsagents. The stamps come with a die cut template and ink with many project ideas inside the magazine to make the most of your kit.

If you would like to work with me on a similar project for you magazine/brand/company, then please do get in touch HERE.

I am always keen to partner and build relationships with new clients and to create beautiful art for them.

Crafts Beautiful Magazine Issue 305 Cover With Free Stamp Kit Designed By Alice Potter


Crafts Beautiful Magazine Issue 305 Internal With Free Stamp Kit Designed By Alice Potter

Cute Projects like the above are available to make with my free stamp kit!


Above: Geometric Patchwork Backpack

This year, I decided to take part in the wonderful Make Art That Sells Bootcamp. For those not in the know, this is a 5 month course set up by art agent, Lilla Rogers. Each month a brief is set and students create artwork for their portfolios in direct response to this brief. It’s challenging, exciting and a real learning curve. I took part in the Bootcamp 2 years ago, and it was a fantastic experience where my work rapidly developed, and resulted in commissions for me.

So, in 2017, I decided to give it another go, and we have just come to the end of our March brief which was to design an abstract pattern for a backpack.

Designing abstracts can be quite difficult when your work is very illustrative and decorative. Using my reference sketches, and photos I was eventually able to come up with some simple icons and shapes that could be connected together to create my pattern. It’s a youthful, playful print which I am quite happy with.Abstract geometric pattern for a backpack designed for Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp


At the end of each month, I am going to write myself some small goals for the following month. I recently joined an accountability group with a few other illustrators and designers. We share goals both short and long term, and will catch up with each other to see how things are going. It’s a great way to remain focused and feel both supported and motivated.

April Goals:

  1. Blog at least twice per month to look at what work I am doing, commissions, or coursework.
  2. Design greeting cards for upcoming occasions and holidays.
  3. Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp for April.
  4. Add more prints to my online shop.
  5. show new work to clients.
  6. Send a newsletter out.
  7. Go to the British Museum
  8. Visit art exhibitions in London.
  9. Draw daily in my sketchbook.

I thought I should update you all on the last 3 weeks I have spent in Paris. I came out in early May with my mum. It was an opportunity for her to relax and take her mind off of things since my dad’s passing. We spent 3 full days travelling all around Paris and seeing things she hadn’t seen before. She was definitely exhausted by the end, but I am so happy she got to see my little flat and the area of Saint Cloud in which I stay.

After she returned to London, I spent some time re-adjusting to being here as it had been 2 months almost since I had left previously. I started working on projects, going to the gym regularly and have enjoyed many fun weekends enjoying what Paris has to offer. I am now back in London for 3 weeks, where I will be attending my nieces baptism and catching up with friends.

Here are a few pictures of my time here in May: