A late starter, that’s me. I tend to have a good time, learn lots then change direction. I was 30 when I left university after completing a BA in graphic design. Prior to that, generally, as I said, having a good time. Then when I was 44 after working and freelancing successfully in graphics and of course learning - a lot, I decided, the wind was in a different direction and I should follow it. Also the thought of sitting at a Mac at 50, whilst the account handler told me, “make the blue a little bluer, no a little more”, etc, wasn’t the most appealing journey into greysville.
So I swapped digital for digits. Picked up those magic wands called pens and began the ride. I began illustrating streets of London, different boroughs that had that element of pride. Screen printing them and selling as limited editions. I was still freelancing during the day in graphics, illustrating and printing in the evening and selling at shows on the weekends. Basically 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. It helped being single at the time. These prints sold en masse globally. And they changed my life.
Customers became clients. Commissions started coming in on a regular basis. I think I had tapped into an untapped market. Hand illustrated typography mixed with illustration and storytelling. That was 10 years ago.
When I was a designer the furthest I travelled was to an industrial estate in Glasgow Scotland, in Winter, in a day. Suddenly Virgin Atlantic are flying me Upperclass to LA to paint a mural. Three times.
I was being commissioned by the Worlds biggest companies and brands to paint and illustrate bespoke artworks and work on collaborations. My client list is enormous. Literally, couldn’t list them here, My word count isn’t big enough. And here’s the thing. Every single client bar none has been a joy to work for and with. As I have gotten older, I realised I don’t need to work with dickheads. I’ll happily turn jobs down if I think the stress is more then the fee. I think it’s called happiness. And I am there in droves.
By Ava Maria Hakim
Artist/Illustrator At Vic Lee Studio