We all know the image of the illustrator working from home, stuck in a room somewhere, alone and shying away from the rest of the world, but recently there has been a big shift to the communal aspect of illustrators working together and taking part in promotional projects for the greater benefit of all.
Collaborative efforts such as Eboy are world renowned for pushing boundaries and having an identity that is so much of the group that it is almost impossible to tell one member's work from another.
Other projects have been more loose in their execution with studios and agencies bringing practitioners together to work on joint projects to promote the organization and raise awareness, Central's exhibits in the royal exchange come to mind as a good example. The illustrators involved were given a loose brief to work to and the pieces were all exhibited as a continuing piece where they had all had to communicate with each other on what colours they were going to use and where lines met up next to each other.
Exhibits such as PickMeUp at somerset house, -that I was lucky enough to go and visit recently- shows some of the community spirit being exhibited of late. Different studios were all housed up together within the exhibit and work was completed within and as part of the exhibit.
It was evident here though that there were not merely different people working separately in isolated rooms. Most of the work was being completed by groups of people collaborating together on group work. Most of this seemed decorative too, and not set by a client in a brief, but more for the enjoyment of any interested party, the artists themselves not being least in this equation.
So, that leaves us, about to graduate, scared to death, most of us looking for clients and seeing (perhaps) a narrow pathway of find client, email client, meet client, wait for client to contact you...or does it?
The authorial approach being taken by many nowadays in collaborative and personal efforts has exposed a market that gives us the opportunity to work in a sustainable way, and to support each other's efforts through collaboration and individual endeavors. To inspire and push each other in new directions and places o which we never would have gone.
I for one think it would be a shame if everyone that has been working together, developing relationships and feeding each-other's creativity should all just suddenly go our separate ways.
I wont deny that there's a part of me that wants to go and do my own thing, see how I get on and (hopefully) make something of myself. I've worked bloody hard and no-one's done it for me. But I still feel that the example given by people like the London Print Studio and people working collaboratively all over the world is one that makes a lot of sense.
There are the obvious financial considerations (something that me and some others have begun to look into) when attempting to set up something like this. But benefits should include the greater amount of ideas, work produced and camaraderie. More people to do promotion and the general spectacle of it all, as well as of course the group identity.
There should be nothing to stop people doing their own work and taking on their own projects, rather the point should be that that's what the group is there for. People could offer support and advice and down the line maybe more, different types of professionals could be added to help things run smoothly.
I'm sure there would be some financial issues to sort out initially, some investment and maybe a little sacrifice but the idea is that it would pay off down the line.
Having the motivation of all that schooling and having paid all those course fees should be enough I think to want to push the idea and make things work.
So let's take the example of people like Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook breaking away from publishers and wanting to make better work 'by designers for designers', and push in our own direction, instead of pandering to an industry that so readily controls and dilutes and starves the young talent it breeds.