Adam Pryce

April 5, 2014

me make it in design

Today, our designer interview is with Adam Pryce, a freelance illustrator and designer from Manchester, UK

greetings cards

Do you remember the first piece of work you ever sold? What was it and who did you sell it to? How did you feel?

The first piece of artwork I ever sold was in college to my art teacher when I did my end of year show. It was circus character made using inked up printed lace that was put through a press – when I sold the piece I felt a mixture of feelings that ranged from joy and confusion that someone would want to actually buy my work. I’m getting better at understanding the worth of my work and that people (other than myself) actually like it!!

Can you describe the evolution of your business?

Throughout my business career i’ve always tried to say ‘yes’ to as many things as possible and really push myself and abilities. I’ve done children’s books, greetings cards, package design and now I’m focusing on surface pattern as i have a great interest in fashion and print. In terms of evolution, my business is on a steady rise based on how much work i’m getting/offered and I feel its really important to regularly step to one side and acknowledge this as its quiet difficult when you live in the ‘freelance bubble’.

childrens book

What has been the most important lesson you have learnt along the way?

The most important thing i’ve learned is defiantly how to manage my time and understand my creative process. I work in ‘shifts’ (similar to when i worked in a supermarket) and try to do between 6 and 7 hours a day, 5 times a week. I tend to work best first thing in the morning and last thing at night – though this changes based on what job I’m working on. I’ve also learned the importance of allowing myself to have time away from working – its taken a long time to learn this.

We’d love to hear a bit about your process. Where do your designs begin, and how to you develop them through to the finished product?

My creative process really varies depending on the area of design the job I’m working on is (children’s book, editorials, pattern work ect). A great deal of the time i’ll work on large pieces of paper sketching ideas and words and then create digital versions of the successful ideas on the computer and refine until its complete/client is happy. I try not to work on a image for too long as its important to keep the energy – knowing when a piece is ‘finished’ is vital. If i have spent a long amount of time on a digital piece i always try and spend a few hours working using traditional techniques so I don’t rely on one tool too much – the balance between digital and hand-drawn is so important to me.

sugar skulls

Please share a little about how your brand look and feel has developed over time

When I was at university my work was quiet dark and full of angst – I never really used colour in my work and it was mainly monotone. When I graduated and realised I actually wanted to focus on children’s books i made myself only draw in colour which was really where the brand of ‘Adam Pryce Illustrator’ began. The addition of learning digital techniques really enhanced it further. I’ve never sat down and thought ‘this is what my brand should be like’ but i’m discovering that my brand is colourful, fun and quirky and I’m really enjoy the journey its taking – its constantly surprising and challenging me.

What kind of team do you have around you to support you and your business?

I work alone but live with my housemate who I went to university with who is also a designer. Its really great as we pick each other up through the bad times of life as a freelancer and its always great to share the journey with someone. I try to go to as many networking events as possible and work with other creative people when ever possible through collaboration. Creative people need to be surrounded by creative people.


How has the industry changed since you started?

Its changed a lot – and thats because of computers and the internet. You no longer need to work in a studio as you can do everything from your desk in your bedroom – which is both good and bad as I personally miss the communication side of it. I also remember that when I started out i sent a lot of promotional work through the post/mail – now 90% of the work i send out is through emails and i’m really selective in terms of who i send work to via post/mail as the response isn’t as productive or as quick as an email.

What makes you excited about your business now?

The speed and the growth my work is taking and the fact that no day is ever the same – when you are freelance you really have to fight for your work and to me thats exciting. I’m excited by Twitter and the direct relationship you can have with your audience – you instantly know whats working and, most importantly not working based on the feedback you get. Social networking has really allowed my work to flourish and given me a place to put my work – each retweet, mention and like is conformation that I’m doing OK.

I’m also really excited by the unknown – you really never know whats around the corner as a designer and that the next email you receive could be the biggest job of your career.

What is your creative space like?

Because I live in a city centre flat I now work in my bedroom a lot as thats where my imac and desk is. I surround myself with books, postcards and print out of my favourite artists works as inspiration. I would love to share a studio space with group of creatives sometime in the near future.

squirrell 1

Which of your products is your favourite?

It really changes but at the moment I’m really enjoying combining my children’s books style and my love of surface pattern and coming up with new designs. I really love my squirrel design and I’m currently designing some foxes, badgers and bird ideas which I hope will be turned in to wrapping paper or clothing pattern later this year.

What advice would you give to an emerging designer looking to follow a similar path to you?

I’d advise to really be passionate about what you are doing and to never give up. Keep on sending work out (I send maybe 100 promotional emails out and get 4 or 5 replies – but they’re the ones that count) and to be as inventive as you can when you market yourself.

Understand your brand, create a world from it and remember that everything is an opportunity. I get asked a lot about wether you should work for free – I’ve done free work in the past – but you really have to think is it going to be beneficial in the long run. If someone offers you exposure rather than payment – I’d always advise you to not take on the work – Understand what you are worth – a lot of people are out to take advantage of your skills.

Adam Pryce logo

What is the big dream for you as a designer and your business?

I really would love to have some more children’s books published and a range of children’s clothes in shops around the world. To be able to purely live of my artwork is what I’ve always wanted so to continue that would really be magical.

me make it in designMy name is Adam Pryce and I am a freelance illustrator/designer based in Manchester UK.

My work is fun and colourful using both modern and traditional design techniques. I currently have 4 published books, a range of greetings cards and a new range of surface patterns to be launched in mid 2014.

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