Interview 5 months ago

Dan Woodger on emailing while eating cereal, and working with Google.

We caught up with Dan Woodger who explained what exactly it means to be an illustrator in today’s creative world.

After graduating from Brighton University, Dan moved to London where he continues to develop his vibrant and fun visual style.

After graduating from his illustration course, Dan has worked for client’s such as The New York Times, Google, Cadbury and FHM. And he shows no signs of slowing down.

We asked him why he illustrates, how me makes what he loves happen and what advice he can give to people wanting to get into the industry.

So, why did you feel Illustration is best suited to you as a creative outlet? What excites you about it?

I’ve always been able to draw.

Like most illustrators will say it’s just something that’s felt natural from a very young age. I’ve never been great with words, and I’m even worse with numbers but drawing I can do. I think it suits me as an art form because it’s uncomplicated and it suits my way of thinking.

I’m not a very serious person so doing work that’s bright, stupid and fun feels like a good fit for me.

I particularly like working on editorial illustrations because that’s when I think my brain works best. I love reading a story or an article and thinking of the best way I can sum up it up with a single image. Not only will that image summarise the point but also hopefully make the reader smile at the same time.

Dan Woodger Illustration Crazy Animal Face

Dan Woodger – Hollywood Reporter

Illustration excites me because it’s ever changing and always adaptable.

It’s been 3 years since graduating from my illustration course, and I’ve created work for such a diverse range of mediums and clients.

From magazines & newspapers to drawing on phone boxes and oversized lunchboxes. I’ve had work in books, on walls, billboards, food-packaging and cushions. I get excited every time a new enquiry comes in. You never know where the next job will take you.

Dan Woodger - Illustration - Crazy Animal Face

Dan Woodger – ‘5pm Dilemmas’

Give us an idea of your average day, how you work and how do you get your creative ideas done?

Haha, oh dear, my average day isn’t particularly exciting really as I work from home but I’ll quickly run through my average daily routine.

My work day always starts at 9am.

Usually it’s a case of jumping back into the project I was working on from the night before over a bowl of cereal and listening to the radio. I work through until lunch where I’ll grab a quick bite to eat whilst watching an episode of The Simpsons or something.

Then I’ll work through until 6pm when my girlfriend gets home.

Then from 6pm-9pm is switch off time.

This is super important, I just do things in this time that are totally un-related to illustration. I cook dinner, go for a run, watch TV etc. It just clears my mind for a few hours which helps me to better focus when I am working.

Then I’ll usually jump back on the computer for an hour or so and tinker around with either client or personal work before bed.

I create my work using mostly Photoshop, though I sketch out my ideas freehand first before scanning into the computer.

After that I trace the sketches in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet to make the line work clean and neat before finishing with colour – paint by numbers style.

Dan Woodger - Illustration - Crazy Animal Face

How do you attract new work?

I do quite a bit of self promotion online and I use social media a LOT.

I’m constantly on Twitter posting about things I’m working on and that serves as a great platform for showcasing my work.

I feel like I’m in quite a fortunate position these days, where I’ve managed to build up a client base and a bit of a reputation. This definitely helps in finding work, but I’ll never take that for granted because it certainly wasn’t like that when I started out.

I think the key is to be noticeable. Don’t shrink away and be shy.

Show off your work, even the bad stuff, show off sketches, roughs, mistakes, successes, just talk. Illustration is such a competitive field. You absolutely have to shout about what you do, otherwise you’ll never be noticed.

Dan Woodger - Illustration Crazy Animal Face

Dan Woodger – Runner’s World USA

Since your illustration course, how long have you been an illustrator and would you say it’s your career?

I have been doing illustration full time for just over 3 years now. I’m absolutely thrilled to say yes, this is my career. I wasn’t sure after graduating from my course where illustration was going to take me, but that’s part of the fun!

What advice would you give to someone starting out in illustration?

Illustration is amazing fun, just be prepared to put in longer working hours than anyone else you know. : )

Embrace rejection.

There is plenty (in fact I just got turned down for a commission whilst chatting to you guys). Use it as fuel to fire you up to work even harder. When you do get that big job it’ll feel even better.