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My name is Penelope Dullaghan and I *was* an art director, but now I'm an illustrator. I like doing both, really... and think they go hand in hand. Lucky thing. But I am now self-employed spending my days creating. I also run a website called it's a collaborative site designed to spark creativity.

When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

I went immediately into my job as an art director after finishing school, and it was there that I learned all about illustration. I started becoming obsessed with it... using it wherever I could in my projects. I hired illustrators and loved working with them. It was so inspiring. And I started thinking, "Hey, I can draw... this is something I'd like to do full time." I'd work all day and then come home and work at night on my illustration portfolio. Eventually I felt ready (well, ready as I was ever gonna be) and I made the leap to being self-employed.

Who or what inspires you?

I'm inspired by lots of things, really. Lately it's been little fabric samples, swatches of different colorful patterns. Line art is totally rockin' and I'm also into abstract art. Anything with bold colors I guess. And nature... collage made by the wind. I don't know. Everything inspires me on a good day. Nothing does on a bad one.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I learned drawing in college. But I'm a self-taught illustrator.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

I just keep working.

What are some of your current projects?

I just finished a gift card for Target. It's a holiday card with a cardinal...coming out on shelves this fall (I think, or winter). And I do a lot of editorial work for various pubs: NY Times, SF Chronicle, Hartford Courant, etc. I also illustrate a weekly column for the Baltimore Sun and that is such a cool gig: I have learned so much through all the experimentation and playing I do for them. It's been invaluable.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

I aim to be proud of all of them. My favorite projects are the ones that just seem to come together: strong idea, simple composition, colors that play well together...

As for personal projects: I'm really proud of illustration friday. It started out so small and now has grown and blossomed into a great community. I think it's one of the few communities out there that is really supportive and just there to spark creativity. It's a great group of artists.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

Aren't there always? I think it's good to always try new things... push your boundaries to see what happens. I keep journals that are like my little messy playgrounds -- I try things there that later may go into an illustration: charcoal smudges, hashing lines, tissue papers...

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

Don't think too much about who you're trying to impress. Do the work that YOU want to do... play with it and have fun. Make it enjoyable. I think that's the key in finding a style that feels right for you. And it will keep you interested in the work. It's gotta be fun... because doing it full time is a lot of work too. :)

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

This is tough one... but I think that a piece is successful if you are happy with it, if it does what it needs to do for the client, and it speaks to observers. I think all three need to be there for it to be a true success. I mean, if you hate it, it's not a success for you. If it flops for the art director, it's not a success for them. And if no one likes it or looks at it, again... not successful to anyone. So I think it's the three combined.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

I am learning to take time off when I can or need to... even if it's just sitting out on the porch reading a book or taking a nap if I'm tired. I am more creative if I allow breathing room in my schedule...

Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."

sailboat captain.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

I don't know... I don't watch a lot of TV. I do like HGTV, but that's about it really. Sad... hee.

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pati said...

Penelope and her work are always such wonderful sources of inspiration ;) I loved this interview!

imwithsully said...

Thank you for this interview. Penelope has been been pivotal in bringing an online art community together in a short period of time. We are all grateful to her for this.

Choper Nawers! said...

wow...i just go crazy with the jiraf illo....your work is really good....been trying to do some of that style for a while but i think i got my own style so i will keep trying....nice work!

Eli said...

Love the art. As a newbie to Illustration Friday, I am very thankful it's there for inspiration, which means a thank you for Penelope, glad to see some of your work, especially the dragonfly, beautiful.

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