The life of an illustrator can be a solitary one. If you're a London-based creative and it's starting to feel like it's the four walls, your screen and Twitter perhaps an evening out with Yo Illo! is what you need. Organised by Rob Barrett, the man behind the illustration studio Nice Hot Cuppa, it's a monthly get together for illustrators. The next one takes place on Wednesday 22 February at the Strongroom Bar in Shoreditch.
"Common feedback is that there's a real lack of events like this in London, where illustrators can get away from the solitude of the desk and actually engage with others," says Barrett. "A lot of the talk during the evenings is of people sharing their work and giving advice and tips to each other, for example, if someone hears of a competition or a potential client that they think someone else's style would be ideal for. It does feel like we're breeding a bit of a culture of giving each other a foot up, which is great."
It all started just over a year ago. The nucleus of the Yo Illo! gang came out of an illustration business masterclass being held at the Association of Illustrators. They decided to have end of term drinks, then Christmas drinks, and then Barrett began organising monthly meets. Since then the crowd has grown and become more varied. He adds: "We've since attracted more of a mix of people, with a few well-established illustrators making appearances - we're not aiming to attract any particular demographic, any illustrators are welcome!"
What we really wanted to know, however, was if any salacious gossip had arisen from their prior meetings, or if there had been any illustrator craziness to report. "Afraid not! Perhaps we should get a sponsor to provide trays of Jagerbombs," says Barrett. "It's not all shop talk though - invariably, conversion does get off topic from time to time, which is only a good thing as we get to know each other better. From a personal point of view, I've made some good friends through Yo Illo, and received some very helpful advice towards my own work and methods of promotion."
You can find out more at the Yo Illo! website.