The evolving creative world of freelance illustrator Lisa Jean
Iris Hill is the creative brand of freelance illustrator Lisa Jean. The name Iris Hill is a tribute to her grandmother who, along with her grandfather, was very supportive of her creativity.
Lisa has always drawn, ever since she can remember, she tells me that her grandfather was amazing at sketching and drawing and this close connection influenced her when young; her homework for instance would take much longer than anyone else in her classes as she ‘illustrated’ it all with sketches, drawings and doodles. After his passing, her grandfather had left all his photographic equipment to her which led to Lisa studying photography at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth (now the Arts University College Bournemouth). After a few years doing commercial work in the field, however, her hobby of illustration began calling her more and more and she built up sketches, experimenting with ink and watercolours, the beginnings of her portfolio.
A few years ago she decided to go full time as an illustrator, working in pen, ink and watercolours, with a leaning towards children’s illustrations. She also began passing on her processes to others via creative workshops at an arts charity.
Lisa tells me, “Whilst working in the land of photography I began sketching in my spare time. I then made a move into the arts charity sector working for a Southampton based organisation, Artswork. With them I began running arts based workshops and working on my portfolio in my spare time. The greetings card work took off three years ago whilst still working for the charity, I was then able to focus on my arts practice.”
Gradually her portfolio grew and grew and after a serendipitous meeting in 2011 she began selling images to Carte Blanche Greetings Cards. Her ‘Mizar’ range of images is a growing body of work that was very inspiring to produce; playing with different colour palettes and combining florals with text made the range really stand out. With the success of ‘Mizar’ Lisa has begun working with other publishers such as Gemma International, producing children’s card ranges and artwork for the teenage market. She exhibited at Progressive Greetings Live 2013 where new ranges were launched and some very worthwhile new contacts were made. Lisa also experimented with exhibiting at a Christmas fair recently and everything she took sold out! She also used this experience to survey what the public were mainly interested in, a very intelligent move on her part.
Realising her dream, Lisa has established her creative base at Eastleigh Sorting Office, one of the growing creative hubs in Eastleigh. Lisa loves working from there and tells me she receives quality mentoring plus lots of support from the other artists. In addition, the European-funded RECREATE programme, consisting of eleven partner organisations in England and France, allows artists at the Sorting Office to become part of a cross-Channel creative business community, with access to new markets and opportunities to take part in mentorship and exchange programmes.
Lisa is now embarking on entering the children’s picture book field. She loves working with children and tells me that the children’s picture book field is not threatened by the rise of e-books or Kindle, as parents still like to read to or with their children and the pictures help the child’s understanding and imagination and the stories often contain a moral message for the reader. Also there is a huge collector’s market for children’s picture books. Lisa hopes to emulate such authors and illustrators as Judith Kerr who created ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and Oliver Jeffers who created ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’, among many other titles. She is writing stories and poems with inventive illustrations and is also learning more and more about the business side of publishing. Children’s books are the real passion of hers at this time and, tongue in cheek, she tells me she loves teaching five to seven year olds as she can then borrow their ideas for her stories. Lisa has a very vivid imagination and has written and illustrated eight stories aimed at the picture book market and is now working on finding an agent ready to launch herself at publishers in 2014.
A visit to Lisa’s website www.irishill.co.uk is a fascinating experience – Lisa’s passion and enthusiasm for her creativity shines through, plus the site has a good overview of ideas she is working on at the moment.
I think we will be hearing more and more about Iris Hill in the years to come!