Why it pays for illustrators to diversify

London-based illustrator Alice Potter discusses her pared-back style, and how selling her own products online became a core part of her business.

In the three years since Alice Potter has been working as a freelancer, her style has changed dramatically - and although most of her work is for editorial clients, she's diversified into new fields to keep things fresh as well as finding new sources of income, such as workshops and an ecommerce website.

We caught up with the London-based illustrator to find out more about her working process…

How would you describe your style?

Right now, it's bold and simple - and with each new commission I do, I try to push my ideas a little more to achieve something unexpected of me.

Do you ever need to force yourself to pare an idea back to basics?

Working in this way comes quite naturally to me. I really enjoy stripping my ideas back to the basics, and using a limited colour palette adds something special to the piece.

It can be a challenge though, and I always take direction when working with a client on a project - although they generally come to me for the simple style I do have.

Talk us through your favorite project from your portfolio.

The most fun I had on a project was the piece I did for Ted Baker back in 2012. I was contacted by Ted Baker via the AOI to work on an A2 poster for them, along with 12 other illustrators. We got to meet one another and there was a real sense of fun had by everyone which is reflected in The Bakers Dozen Project.

The only challenging thing about that project was signing 1,400 prints in three hours. This piece also led me to create a bespoke wedding map for an ex-actor (now writer) on Home and Away last September, which was a pleasure.

Is your Etsy shop a lucrative sideline, or just a bit of fun?

I started selling on Etsy shortly after I graduated from university back in 2008. Back then it was a bit of fun, but it has since become an integral part of my business.

I enjoy making bags and putting together orders, and I do think it benefits my illustration as well as I tend to think of things as potential products when working on personal projects.

You also run Illustrator and Photoshop workshops. Has that been popular?

This idea came about quite recently, after I helped my boyfriend learn Illustrator. I had taught myself too and thought it would be a nice thing to do on the side. It's still very early days with it though, so I don't have much to report yet. Watch this space!

Words: Nick Carson