Rebecca Mills on Design Processes

This week I spoke with Rebecca Mills about the creative process behind designing. She provided some insightful information, particularly on her design process. The full interview is below!

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How did you start your career as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer?

I always loved drawing and art!  My career guidance councillor in high school suggested graphic design as an option so I did some research and work experience and really fell in love.

I studied Graphic Design (minoring in illustration) at Curtin University and was offered a job at our Graduates Exhibition in 2005 – working as an in-house designer/illustrator for a local design and merchandising company. I’m so thankful for the experience I gained in this role. It was a small company which meant I was able to be super hands on, learning how to manage clients, accounts, quoting, local and offshore production and the importance of time, file and budget management. I worked there for 4 years before I thought I would dip my toe in the water as an after hours freelancer. I used Google Adwords to grow my business (back when it was financially viable) and had books full enough to quit my job 3 weeks later.

The first six years of my business was spent on 80% design, 20% illustration for corporate clients - I always wanted to illustrate more but was too busy designing and got swept up in the day to day of my business and existing client load. Having my two kids acted like a “mental reset” – now that I’m back at work 3 days a week, I’m now focussing on my passion of illustration full time and have been super thankful for some great opportunities and clients coming my way!

Is it better to focus on defining your own art style, or making sure you’re versatile and can fit in almost anywhere?

In my opinion, it’s a hard balance between developing a strong art style (especially one which is very niche) and having full books, especially in a town like Perth where the market is quite small. I’m currently booked out - 80% of the jobs are in my bright, clean, crisp style – and the other 20% have different requirements. My plan is to explore a range of different illustration avenues before committing to a niche and style. I don’t want to close myself off to opportunities just yet!

Can you talk me through your design process. How do you go from a client brief to a finished piece of work?

The most important bit of nailing a job is to have a deep understanding of the clients needs. Often, a lot of what is “said” isn’t actually written down so I always like to have a chat over the phone or in person before starting a job. From there:

  • Quote
  • Acceptance of Quote/Deposit payment
  • For large projects, a sample is supplied.
  • Roughs
  • Final artwork
  • Timing really depends on the job. For instance, currently I am working on a 14 spread children’s book that we’ve budgeted 30 weeks, and I’m also working on a single event illustration which we have allowed 3 weeks.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Absolutely everywhere! It actually drives me a bit mad that I can’t just enjoy a moment without analysing shapes or colour schemes. My phone is full of photos of interesting leaves and flowers I’ve seen out and about. My kids and I love visiting the library and rifling through all the children’s books. Most inspiring of all is my Instagram and Twitter feeds – I am in awe of so many of the artists in these communities and there is so much to learn from them.

Thanks so much for taking part in this. Where can we go to see your work?

  • www.rebeccamills.com.au
  • https://twitter.com/RebeccaMills
  • https://www.instagram.com/rebeccamillsdraws/