Jack Oliver Coles is a freelance illustrator based in Newport, Wales. He works exclusively with coloured pencils and can generally be found either drawing portraits or groups of people side-eyeing each other. Jack graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2016 and has been working his portfolio ever since.
Before my illustration degree I unsuccessfully started two previous degrees.
Like nearly every creative person I've always drawn but I didn't know what illustration was until I heard another student talking about it on my foundation course and even then I didn't really understand what it actually was. After starting and dropping out of both a Computer Games Design and an Animation degree I finally looked into illustration and something just clicked.
Artist wise my favourites are Paul Gaugin, Vladimir Tretchikoff and David Hockney but most of my inspiration comes from people that I see on and offline. Sometimes I'll just see an outfit or someone with so much charisma and feel like I just have to draw something.
A typical day is me sitting around the house trying to compose professional sounding emails, furiously colouring in, worrying about deadlines, and sketching ideas for exciting personal projects that won't ever get resolved.
I find getting someone to tell you to draw something always helps to get over blocks. I tend to ask a friend or Instagram for a prompt and by the time I've finished working on that I've usually worked out whatever issues I had and am good to go with what I need to focus on.
I haven't actually worked with many professional clients so I can only give you two! My final university project was an illustrated timeline for the National AIDS Trust and one of my first proper commissions was for the Sad Ghost Club who I had been following for a while.
I use coloured pencils, a light-box to trace my sketches (which really helps when you're avoiding outlines), and then photoshop to tidy up everything and place my illustrations on white backgrounds.
Instagram is very good at motivating me. Seeing so many people creating amazing work makes you realise that if you want to be successful you have to keep making work too even if you don't think its as good as what you're seeing.
I think organisation is the biggest thing you need if you want to be successful as a freelancer because its your job to keep on top of everything. That means promoting yourself, contacting clients, keeping track of your finances, and making sure you still have the time to make great work.
My projects are usually very quick and require one final piece so I'd love to be given an opportunity to create something more expansive. I don't really know what form that would take but it'd be nice to be given that space to change things up a bit.
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