Anke Weckmann Illustration

Schweizer Familie / Childhood Fears

on
09/03/2019


In February I illustrated another article for Schweizer Familie magazine, I've been lucky to draw such fun things for them! This article was about childhood fears - obviously fears are not fun, but drawing these illustrations definitely was!

I love seeing other artists' process so here's another behind the scenes peek. Here are some sketchbook drawings I did for my initial research, the roughs I sent to the art director, my inked drawing (I ink all my illustrations on paper) and the digitally coloured versions - as well as how it looked in the final layout of the online version of the magazine.

How I made the jump to being a full-time freelance illustrator

on
27/01/2019


August 28th, 2008 was my last day at my part-time retail job and since then I have been a full-time freelance illustrator. It's been more than ten years, which is crazy and weird and also awesome! While I sometimes still feel like I'm just starting out - perhaps because my sense of time is skewed or because this industry is ever changing, I also now officially have a decade's worth of experience as a full-time, self-employed illustrator (just in case you were questioning my credentials, haha!)

So how did I make the initial jump? I was recently asked this by one of my newsletter subscribers and I think this is the kind of post I would have liked to read when I was starting out so here we go! (Disclaimer: there are many ways to do things in life and this is just one of them.)

When I graduated from the BA illustration course at Kingston University in 2005, I knew I wanted to become a full-time freelance illustrator, no matter how hard I had to work or how long it would take. In hindsight, I think this was the most important decision of my career. No plan b and a lot of stubborn determination.
I found myself a job in retail 4 days a week and spent all my evenings and days off working on my illustrations. I assumed that somehow, you slowly get more and more work until one day, you have a steady income as an illustrator and can quit your job. This is also the general advice for transitioning from being employed to starting your own business: Grow your business on the side until you make enough money to live off and then quit your job.

However, at the end of 2007, two-and-a-half years after graduating I was perpetually exhausted. Working 7 days a week (something I'd done throughout uni as well), wasn't sustainable in the long run. Not knowing how much longer I would have to keep up this pace made me feel burnt-out.

By that point I had done some cool commissions - a book, magazines, t-shirts, greetings cards etc. But usually work was unpredictable. I either had loads of work on at once, or nothing for a while. It certainly didn't feel secure enough to quit my retail job. At the same time I couldn't help wondering how much more illustration work I could get if I had more time and energy to dedicate towards promotion and making more work.

So I asked myself in what situation I would feel secure enough to leave my job. I didn't want to just quit, only to have to look for a new part-time job after a few weeks or months. That didn't make sense. Thinking it through, I felt that if I had 12 months worth of living expenses saved up, I could leave my job without panicking immediately if I hit a dry patch or a client paid late. And I made a new plan: In 2008 I would save all the money from illustration commissions and save up £12,000 by the end of August and quit my part-time job. There wasn't much I could save from my retail job income - I was making £680 GBP a month, which, after rent, council tax and bills, left me about £100 for food and anything else and even in 2008 was tight to live on in London). Setting a date when I was going to quit my job renewed my focus and energy. I worked and worked and worked and squirrelled away all the money I made from illustration commissions.
I didn't quite hit my savings goal of £12,000, but I think I had about £8000 and some commissions lined up when I left my job at the end of August in 2008. (I added to these savings whenever I could and think it's always a good idea to keep 6-12 months of living expenses in case of emergencies. That way you don't have to panic when a payment is late, you can create with less stress and you don't feel pressured into signing contracts that contain unfair terms.)

Ever since then, I've been illustrating for a living and I've never had to go back to having any other job! Thank you to my younger self for coming up with this simple and effective plan. And thank you to the power of spreadsheets and being super organised with finances.

Are you planning to become a freelance illustrator? Let me know if you have any more questions. And if you've already made the jump, comment and share how you did it and if you have any advice you want to share.


MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018

on
24/12/2018
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you're having the most wonderful, the coziest and the most relaxing Christmas ever. I know I can definitely use a good break before diving into work again. Even though I know I say this every year, this year went by SO fast! It feels like it was Christmas 2017 just five minutes ago. What is time?! I plan to be sharing more on my blog again in 2019 and I'll be sending out a newsletter, too! Sign up here if you like. Happy Holidays! Lots of love, Anke.

Motivation Poster & My New Newsletter!

on
09/12/2018
When I was in primary school I got REALLY into penpals. I had at least ten and I was writing and receiving letters pretty much every single day. Not surprisingly, this is when my love for stationery started, too! Ads for penpals were usually at the back of kids magazines but I also roped kids I met on holiday into becoming my penpals. Even when everyone was on the internet, I was exchanging snail mail with people I knew online. I loved writing the letters and making my own envelopes, adding stickers and little details. And I LOVED receiving post, too - I still do!

Nowadays I rarely have the time or patience to write proper letters, partly due to being busy and partly because after drawing all day I don't feel like also using my hand to write (plus, I write super slowly). But I still love sending birthday presents to friends in other countries - including lots of little gifts, wrapping them, decorating the box, etc.
It's similar with my Etsy orders, I love making everything cute so that when you open your order it's like receiving a gift!

Why am I telling you all this? Because these were the things I was thinking about when I decided to start my newsletter. I don't want it to be just list of 'news'. I want it to be like sending a letter/present to a friend. With lots of care about the details so that it's really fun to receive and open my emails.
It doesn't have to be one-sided if you don't want it to be - you can email me back with comments, suggestions and questions. After ten years of being an illustrator some things can seem really obvious even when they're not. So don't hesitate sending in your questions and I'll do my best to answer your questions and include a Q&A at the bottom of each newsletter.

In addition to that, I want the newsletter to be about motivation and productivity because I love those topics and many people joined in my '100 Days Of Productivity' challenge which I didn't expect! I think they're useful topics for everyone, whether you have a lot of projects you would love to do or whether you just want to get stuff done efficiently so you can have more time off.

That's why I've illustrated a free printable Motivation Poster for you, wohoo! If you sign up to my newsletter you will be taken to a page with the free downloads, there's both a colour and a b&w (which looks cool on coloured paper, I think) version. I hope you like it and I'm excited to start sending you my newsletters soon!

Cincinnati Gives / Raising Generous Kids

on
24/11/2018
I love doing editorial illustrations, and I think this is one of the sweetest ones I got to draw so far! Cincinnati Gives is an annual magazine produced by Cincinnati magazine and the article is about getting children involved in helping with charity work. Here's a peek into my process: As you can see, I initially submitted two different pencil sketches for the art director to choose from. Then I inked the illustration on paper, scanned it and coloured it digitally. (The last image is a screenshot from the article on the Cincinnati Magazine website , you can read it here!). Cincinnati Gives  is out now.

Shop / Spies Print

on
12/11/2018
I've added a new print called Spies  to my Etsy Shop, just in time for Christmas Shopping! This is an updated illustration of a screenprint I made back at university. A lovely lady called Alison saw this print in a cafe in Edinburgh and asked if I had any more available since it reminded her of her daughter. Since the screenprints were made back in 2005 they're long gone, but it inspired me to make an updated version and turn it into a giclee print. It was so strange and interesting to return to work I made a long time ago and so nice to 'fix' some things and make them better. Do you ever re-visit older work of yours?

Freelance Life / Printable To-Do List

on
28/10/2018
Hello! It's Sunday and I want to check in as my first week of my '100 Days Of Productivity' is almost completed. When I wrote the blog post last week, I kind of came up with the challenge in that moment, to keep myself more accountable during the cold and grey season. Especially since it was so short notice, I was surprised at how many people joined and printed out the chart from my blog post! It definitely motivated me to keep setting my alarm for 6am even though I was pretty tired as the week went along. And some sort of 24 hour stomach bug threw me off on Thursday and Friday. But it's ok, productivity isn't about being perfect and it definitely won't be perfect every day for 100 days.

I love seeing everyone's updates on Instagram stories so much! If you haven't joined yet, you can still start at any point. And if you're finishing your first week as well, let me now how it's going!

Here's another printable which is a week to-do list. It's always good to know what you want to/have to do in a week, so you can plan each day better. I kept it pretty simple so it works for everybody and you can use it in a way that works for you!

Download the free printable here: DOWNLOAD  •  PDF    TEMPLATE 

It's getting a lot colder now in London, and when I'm at my desk with blankets and a hot water bottle I can definitely use the extra push of this challenge. Thank you for keeping me motivated! Have a great week & remember to kick ass!

Freelance Life / 100 Days Of Productivity

on
21/10/2018
The days are getting shorter, we're racing towards the end of the year and the urge to hibernate is real! Perhaps not  actual  hibernation but I find myself getting up later (it's just so cozy under the blankets, one more hour can't hurt, right?), skipping things on my to-do list, wasting time scrolling down Instagram and feeling a little more sluggish. It's been a busy year, maybe I should slow down and give myself a break? I think it would be totally fair enough. (And if that's your plan, go for it!)
Problem is, I have a whole bunch of projects and goals and things I really, really want to work on and what will make me happiest is to end the year with a lot of momentum and progress.

So I made the decision yesterday to start a  100 Days Of Productivity  challenge. The idea originally came from the study community on Tumblr: People were posting pictures of their work & workspace every day to hold themselves accountable and stick to good study habits. I find this concept really inspiring and of course it can be applied to anything, not just studying. You can (and should) make your own rules about what you want to accomplish and what productivity means to you. It should be fun!



Do you want to join the challenge? I made a printable chart where we can tick off each day that we've been productive. Yay! I love a good chart. And you can share your progress on social media if you want - I'n planning to post mine on Instagram stories.

My personal goal is to make sure I'm up before 6.30am every day and to stick to my daily to-do list without getting distracted by phone/internet/etc, double my productivity and get as many projects ticked off my list as I can!

You can start this at any time, but if you start with me tomorrow (22nd October 2018), the  100 Days Of Productivity  challenge takes us to the end of January and we will have started 2019 on a roll! Are you in?

Print out the free template  and you're ready to go:  

Behind The Scenes / How To Make A Travel Journal

on
12/10/2018
I finished my travel journal! It's called Planes, Trains & Fireworks and documents James' and my trip to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Rochester. (It's available here!) Fitting bigger personal projects around illustration commissions is challenge so this took some time to complete, which is why I can't quite believe it's finally done and printed. Wohoo! I thought it would be fun to share some behind the scenes of the process! So here we go:

1. THE SKETCHBOOK I KEPT ON THE TRIP
As you can see during our trip I just made very messy scribbles and notes in my sketchbook. When we're on holiday, James and I like to wake up, walk and explore all day (often 10 hours of more) and then fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. There isn't ever much time to draw, let alone put effort into making a pretty sketchbook! This is an A5 Travelogue Handbook sketchbook, by the way.

2. PLANNING / STORYBOARD
Back home in London, I made a rough plan/storyboard for the travel journal I wanted to make. I went through the sketchbook I kept on holiday and roughly divided the content into pages. This time I used an A3 Seawhite Of Brighton sketchbook, because I needed the space!

3. SKETCHES 
Then I started to make sketches for the book. Since my original drawings were very basic, I used the photos I took on holiday as reference - for example for all the food we ate. Some things I googled as well, like images of chipmunks which I then drew a few times for practice. (This is a random A4 Leuchtturm lined notebook. The pages were perforated so I taped them with washi tape to make sure they wouldn't rip out).

4. PENCIL LAYOUTS
At this stage I drew each page layout pretty neatly with a mechanical pencil onto A4 sized layout paper. It's pretty close to the final drawings, I only tweaked small details while inking.

5. INKING & LETTERING ALL THE PAGES
The whole book is inked by hand on paper and hand-lettered, too. Ouch! This was the stage where my hand was really aching but it was also the most fun and satisfying part of the process. It's A4 Fabriano drawing paper, with a bit of texture. I love it because it makes the lines look so much nicer than smooth paper.

6. FINALISING PAGES IN PHOTOSHOP
After scanning all 40 pages, I cleaned up any smudges in Photoshop and 'coloured' the pages (i.e. I added black areas and screentone). I also tweaked the layout, corrected typos/mistakes, added a few small things...) This  stage took a lot longer than I had expected. I printed out each page and taped them up on the studio wall so I could see my progress and also see how it would all look together!

7. REPEAT PATTERN FOR ENDPAPERS
During our trip I collected a lot of tickets, bits of paper, business cards etc which I scanned and turned into a repeat pattern for the endpapers of the book.

8. THE COVER
The cover was such a nerve-wracking thing because after all this work I wanted it to be something I would be 100% happy with. No pressure, right? Sometimes things are fun and ideas come easily, but with all this pressure I had zero ideas. I made so many different sketches, none of which worked, until I came up with this one. It wasn't until I draw the elements separately and moved them around that the final version came together.

9. CHOOSING THE PERFECT PAPER
Now it was time to put everything together in InDesign and to ask the printer to send over a lot of paper samples. I wanted the paper to be perfect as well, something beautiful with some texture that would make the final product beautiful and hopefully even more fun to read!
I then asked the printer to send me two printed proofs on different papers that I liked and ended up choosing Mohawk Superfine Eggshell paper (it's so lovely!).  I also realised that the illustration wasn't centred properly on the cover, so I fixed that before sending the travel journal off to print.

10. THE FINAL PRODUCT
And that's the end of this very long story behind the making of PLANES, TRAINS & FIREWORKS. I love seeing/reading behind-the-scenes and hope you enjoyed this! There are more details and peeks inside here in my Etsy shop.




Schweizer Familie / Kids Protest

on
09/07/2018


Another really fun editorial illustration for Schweizer Familie magazine. I love that commissions get me to draw things I may have never drawn otherwise - like this fun children's demonstration/protest!
Here's another peek into my process as well, showing the pencil sketch that I sent off for approval, the ink-on-paper illustration, and the final version (digitally coloured in Photoshop). The image at the bottom shows what the final illustration looks like in the layout. If you're interested in reading the whole article, there's an option to subscribe to the e-paper version of the magazine here: https://www.schweizerfamilie.ch/e-paper-lesen/