August 16, 2016

Claudine O’Sullivan, Freelance Illustrator

Irish-born illustrator Claudine O’Sullivan has been making a thunderous roar with her illustrative animals. She’s managed to build a successful freelance career and has networked her way to a client list including MTV, and Apple. We spent an afternoon with Claudine and discussed freelancing, hard work and the importance of leaving your comfort zone.

Claudine O'Sullivan Business Cards Stickers

How did you come to find yourself in the world of illustration?

I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I never considered it as something I wanted to do when I grew up. I was really academic at school and always thought I’d have a normal job – or whatever I used to think that was. I found out after a year of studying media and journalism at University that I wasn’t very good at writing. I decided I wanted to apply to an art course. I put together a portfolio and was accepted into fashion school in London. After realising that also wasn’t for me, I applied to study graphic design, specialising in illustration. Drawing has been the thing I’ve done the whole way through my life, I’m only realising now “hey, this is my job”.

Claudine O'Sullivan Animal Illustrations

You’ve worked on some pretty exciting projects recently. What’s been your favourite job so far?

I love jobs that make me do work that I wouldn’t usually think of myself. I did a live art event for Tiger Beer last year – a 7×7 ft mural in a busy pub in Dublin. It was great, but the time pressure was immense. I had to illustrate 36 little squares which were then given out at the end. It’s something I would never have done on my own.

Claudine O'Sullivan Business Cards Stickers

Do you think being taken out of your comfort zone is important?

Definitely. Most of what I think is now my best work has come from being taken out of my comfort zone. My fox is one of my most popular illustrations, and it’s funny when I think of how much pressure I created it under. I was doing an exhibition for the London Design Festival. They asked for some last minute illustrations and they’re not somebody you can say “let’s push it back” to. I stayed up all night and created the fox. I didn’t have a minute of sleep. The next day it was in a frame and it was everybody’s favourite piece.

Claudine O'Sullivan Business Cards Stickers

How do you promote yourself?

I have my website which is a portfolio of my finished work, but I think social media is the perfect way to put a face to my work. I also get out there and network – I share my Business Cards wherever I can as they’re an extremely visual reminder of my work.

Claudine O'Sullivan Business Cards Stickers

What advice would you give to somebody wanting to go freelance?

I’d love to say “yeah quit your job, go do what you love” but that would be wrong of me. It’s important that people know there’s a massive amount of hard work behind it. You have to be willing no matter what your situation to work as hard as you possibly can. Be wise about it. It’s scary, but it’s an amazing feeling when you do it.

Claudine O'Sullivan Building Illustration

Any parting pearls of wisdom for us?

It’s important to not over work a piece, learn to let something be finished.

Written and photographed by Josh Fray

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