Enquiry to End Sample - How to be Content, Jo Parry Nov 05 2018

Samples and spotted

At Advocate, we love to see the end outcome of a project, whether it's a book, a pack of greetings cards, or any other product! This week we're celebrating the completion of How to be Content, that the wonderful Jo Parry has illustrated through a project with Quarto! In a world obsessed with happiness, How to be Content is a chance to take stock of this age-old question – and we may just discover that we already have the answer!

Jo Parry's minimalistic colour palette and contemporary drawing style have allowed her to bring the various aspects of this book to life, whilst making her a popular illustrator for both Publishing and Art Licensing. You can spot more of Jo's designs across Greetings Cards, Ceramics, Wall Art, Stationery and many more products, for all occasions too. If you'd like to see more of Jo's work, check out her online Advocate portfolio

We also asked Jo what her approach is to new projects, have a read through our short Q&A below, and scroll through the images above!

1). What are your qualifications when deciding to take on a new project?
My primary objective when taking on a new brief is satisfying myself I can fulfil the commission to the required standards set by the client. I always consider it to be a privilege to be selected for a commission so I only accept briefs that means that will be the outcome.
For this specific commission, I had to develop a new variation on my style and implement a new technique using Pantone colour channels. I found this quite challenging at the start so liaised closely with the client at the initial stages to make sure I could complete the artwork correctly.

2). When accepting a project, is the subject of the book important to you?
I really don’t mind which subject the project is based on, obviously there are themes I particularly enjoy illustrating, but sometimes it’s good to be asked to illustrate themes not covered before, both for the challenge and the experience. I think as illustrators we often stay within our comfort zone and find ourselves repeating the same themes. I have always tried to broaden my capabilities by taking on projects that explore new subject matters. For this commission I was asked to provide artwork covering a vast range of subjects and themes, which I found really enjoyable.

3). Once you sign off on a project, and receive the brief, what are your first steps in getting started?
My first step is to thoroughly read the brief and make sure I understand what is required. At this stage I will contact the client if I have any questions before moving onto the next stage which is to gather resources and reference.
I build up a portfolio of images and ideas first, (often these are provided by the client as a guide to the look they are aiming for) mainly to explore possibilities in terms of design and interpretation. Once I’m happy with how I wish the artwork to look, and this has been fully discussed with the client, I make a start with draughting up sketches

4). Do you have a certain method or ritual to the artistic process?
I always draw my sketches by hand. Although my artwork is digital at the colour stage, I still like to carry out the initial stages of an illustration by hand. One reason is I enjoy this process and feels it keeps my drawing skills up to standard, plus I think it adds to the overall look of the final artwork. It’s also nice to keep these sketches filed in portfolios to look back on later. Unfortunately I have rather a lot now so they take ups lot of room! For this commission the sketches were quite labour intensive and detailed, in fact in some instances the sketches took longer to complete than the colour work.

5). What is your studio space like? Are you more of a morning worker or a night owl?
I have an open plan living area in my home and my workstation is situated there, in fact its in a recess under my stair case! If I’m busy on a commission I will be be both lark and night owl, I find that once I am fully engaged in a project I like to fit in as many hours in a day as I can.
I like to have ‘momentum’ during a commission so find it easier to work in longer blocks of time in one go, rather than breaking it up into smaller blocks. This particular commission was extensive so it was important to have a structured schedule to work to. Timelines are always shifting (!) but larger projects are less daunting if the scheduling stage has been well planned at the start.

6). What happens when your sketches are approved? How do you go about choosing your colour palette?
Generally, the palette has been discussed and agreed on prior to sketch work being completed. In the case of this particular commission, the client stipulated very specific colours and methodology for the file output. In many ways it is easier if the client has a clear preference when it comes to colour-way, but obviously there are times when I am given the responsibility of selecting the colour palette and this can be one of the more interesting parts of a project. It is often the subject matter that dictates which colour choices would be appropriate, but on occasion there is more flexibility and it can be fun to explore more experimental colour combinations. Once the sketches are approved I scan them into the mac and set my files up using the sketch as a base on which to develop the illustrations.

7). What is your inspiration?
This all depends on the nature of the brief, but generally speaking I will have a particular ‘look’ in mind for a brief and then gather resources based on that particular style, and draw inspiration from those. I also like to take photographs of my surroundings, such as elements in nature and architecture, structures and views. These themes are often present in my work. For this commission I wanted to create a screen print style, and give the illustrations detail and texture. So initially I looked at screen print and block print art, and experimented with techniques until I found a method that created the look I was aiming for.

8). How do you know when your pieces are "done”?
I don’t always! I can be tempted to overwork artwork at times so have to bare that in mind when I’m working. Generally speaking though, if I have prepared the sketches correctly I will follow the design closely so it will be clear to see when an illustration is complete. The illustration brief for this commission was very specific in terms of content for each piece, so that made the recognition of completion quite easy.

9). What does it feel like to complete a book?
This varies! In some instances it is relief, particularly if the project was quite challenging or extensive. In the case of this project, I actually felt rather sad when it was finished because it was one of my most enjoyable commissions. The project was lengthy but I learnt a lot during the process and was challenged to work in new ways. I found this journey fascinating and while very labour intensive, incredibly fulfilling. Add to that, the client was a delight to work for, which only added to the overall enjoyment of the brief.

10) How do you celebrate the completion of a new project!?
I’ve been a professional illustrator for 28 years so I’m long past the point of celebrating the end of a project! So long as I know the client is happy with the artwork and I have completed it to the best of my ability, I mentally sign off the work and move onto my next project. I still have many ambitions to fulfil, in particular with writing my own books, which is an ongoing process in the background. When I achieve my goals in this regard I might allow myself a small celebratory cheer then!

Jo Parry was founded by our team of illustration agents, based at our UK and USA illustration agencies. If you think any of our other illustrators would perfect for an upcoming project you have, be sure to get in touch with one of our agents.