How did you start out?

After Art School I stayed on in Edinburgh and went on what was then called The Enterprise Allowance Scheme which gave me £40 a week from the Government. I also booked lots of portfolio interviews with Art Directors from Design and Advertising Agencies. Unfortunately most of them didn’t turn up to our meetings and it was all very disheartening. Eventually one Art Director (who did turn up) suggested I move to London, Germany or New York as my style of work wasn’t going to earn me a living in Edinburgh. London seemed my most comfortable option so I arranged a few preparatory trips, one of which was for a month when I booked nearly 100 meetings (none were cancelled), after which I made the brave move south. All those meetings resulted in only two magazine commissions, but someone kindly said, “See every meeting as sowing a seed – you never know when or which are going to grow”. 
Slowly the odd illustration job came in but I carried on with the interviews, keeping my portfolio as sharp as possible. I asked every art director I met who they’d recommend me to see next and that way I always had new people to see. Advice was often given or asked for – some very disheartening and damning – but it paid to listen and I tried so hard to learn. Publishers would say my work was too sophisticated for children and to go to magazines or Design Studios, and those Art Directors would say my work was too child-like and advised me to go to children’s publishers! It became a bit of a Catch 22 situation until I finally managed to get some printed magazine work. This gave others the confidence to commission me further. It didn’t help that I was rather shy but I persevered as I hadn’t a clue what else to do if I couldn’t illustrate. It therefore didn’t seem like a slog but a necessity to keep driving forward and believing in myself.
After a couple of years of very hard work with a LOT of rejections, the commissions started to come in and slowly the sown seeds began to grow and didn’t stop. The fear of not having a job kept me working extremely hard, but it was interesting work as no two illustration jobs are alike and it stretched me. It’s a good career but a battle indeed to get ones foot in the door.