Ellie Lister | Friday 25th September, 2020
As a business built for freelancers and the self-employed, today is National Doodle day, and although it might be a bit of a stretch, we wanted to seize the opportunity to big up the illustrator & design talent within our community. We’ve reached out to one of our first thousand customers and dear friend Danny Lister, to put the spotlight on her illustration & design business: Chalk & Gown.
Danny specialises in bridal art & fashion illustration, but has worked in a whole host of industries. In this article we chat about Danny's design inspiration & the impact of instagram, and we learn how Danny is perhaps one of the first freelancers to not binge listen to podcasts. Bizarre.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and how long you’ve been doing it for. Interests etc.
Hello Penfold! I am a freelance graphic designer & illustrator and have been for 6 years. I've worked across lots of different industries (from kids toys to printing), but my passion lies with bridal art and fashion illustration. I'm still establishing my own brand: Chalk & Gown, where I create bridal art for newly married couples, which has been the best thing to come from the lockdown. It's a big working progress still - but you can catch me on instagram at @chalkandgown.
I've always been arty farty. From practicing writing my name in different fonts since I was 3, which I guess grew into my love for calligraphy, to foraging for random fabrics to make the most elaborate sketchbooks since I was a student. I suppose design was inevitable. I absolutely love it and I'm blessed to love what I do!
How about freelancing, what's the best & worst bits about it; and, your best project since going freelance?
The freedom within freelancing is super rewarding and it demands you to utilise your whole skillset. Whilst in-house designing can be awesome, freelancing allows me to pick and chose the work in so many different areas which allows my creativity to soar with no limits. This dynamic and limitless nature to freelance work hooked me into joining the club.
Worst thing, let's face it has to be VAT and bookeeping! Also with COVID, its defo fight or flight at the moment, especially due to the insecure nature of the job - you can never stop working when its for yourself! Every minute costs.
I recently worked with an interior design company that wanted a full business re-brand which involved creative direction across product print and digital. Their craft and service was incredible and there is nothing more enjoyable than working for companies that adore and believe in their product, makes the entire creative process exciting and always leads to incredible results!
How has the rise of instagram and demand for instant content impacted what you do?
Instagram has put a big fat catalyst on content creation. With the mass amount of amazing content out there, it can be almost impossible to reach everybody, so knowing and providing for your niche is essential to not only keep growing, but to stay motivated and creative. Remember who, why and what you started for in the first place. They say fashions fade and style is eternal and its so true - and even more true with social media. To stay on your A-game, its all about building a relationship with not only your customer, but an even bigger relationship with your competitor.
What are your top 3 recommendations - podcasts, books, people to follow, sources of inspiration?
Ok. I really hate to admit it, but I'm not a podcast or book person at all - freelancing is timely & tough stuff! So I'll list some amazing people instead:
Lydia Elise Millen & Mrs Hinch are my favourite and only influencers, can I have their lives please?
Also, Greg James & Stephen Graham are everything too.
Finally, top tips for aspiring designers?
In the words of Snoop Dogg "be you because no one else can you but you"! Don’t think you have to read this and listen to that and know this... I am a self taught designer, my degree is in fashion design and my graphic eye is purely a combination of instinct and inspiration, don’t follow set rules FOLLOW YOU and support EVERYONE!