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Take the First Steps Towards a Career in Illustration

Monica Galan,
Written by
Jasmin Woolley-Butler
Published date
23 June 2020

Are you interested in illustrating books, book jackets of children’s picture books? Our Book Illustration course has been developed at an intermediate/advanced level for students who would like to take a drawing based course to further develop their skills through project briefs and individual tutorials. You may be considering taking an Illustration BA or MA or simply want to develop your drawing practice.

In this weeks student story, Monica Galan explains how taking Book Illustration has had a transformative effect. Increasing her confidence and teaching her to experiment, be more playful with her work and setting her off on the right path towards her planned career change.

Book Illustration is a new addition to our online schedule for summer 2020, join us in August from anywhere in the world and take your Illustration practice to a new level.

What short course did you to study at Chelsea College of Art?
Book Illustration

Tell us a little bit about where you are from and your journey to taking a short course at Chelsea College of Art?
Hey there! I’m a Spanish freelance illustrator. I graduated as a Primary Teacher and worked as such until I decided to pursue my dream of becoming an illustrator. Nowadays, I work as a freelance illustrator, mostly creating personal projects and starting to work with clients. I illustrate non-fiction books, picture books and children’s magazines (here, my background as educator comes in handy!).

I mostly work digitally now, and the Book Illustration short course gave me the opportunity to reconnect with handmade techniques to incorporate in my work and to loosen up and be more playful.

Although I have started as an illustrator in my thirties, I feel that having a previous education background and working experience helps in developing a career. When it comes to illustration and design, I am mostly self taught and I believe in constant learning for professional growth. UAL short courses are perfect for this, you get in touch with experienced teachers and like minded creatives. Every course is specifically designed to help you develop a particular subject and put it into practice.

What do you do day to day?
As a freelancer, I spend my days between personal work, client work, and business management. I am not 100% freelance yet, and I keep another job that helps me pay the bills. I am working on my portfolio and ready to take the next step soon. I also dedicate some time a week to learning, I attend workshops or take classes online. I always include in my calendar longer courses, like the ones at the UAL, because it is important to get in touch with other professionals and with the latest trends in your business.

What inspired you to take a short course and what did you enjoy most about it?
I had some few days off from work and I wanted to make the most of this time by taking a course related to my career. To be honest, I was comparing courses all over Europe when I found Book Illustration at UAL. The description was exactly what I needed, the teachers were amazing and previous students had left really positive reviews. I didn’t have to think twice!

My classmates were all really interesting, from many different parts of the world, different visions about illustration and different skill sets. The teachers were incredibly kind and talented. They gave us the inside scoop on the illustration business, they showed us new techniques and mentored us through our course projects.

They also gave me enough knowledge to help me continue to growing on my own after the course finished.

How has your short course benefited your career and personal development?
Book Illustration has had a huge impact on the way I organise my career now. I have learnt so much about the business, how other illustrators work and thrive. I am more confident about how to create a book from start to finish. It really helped me put my thoughts in order.

And as I mentioned before, the course introduced me to experimenting with traditional media and help me loosen up a little.

Where are you planning to use your new creative skills?
I am working on some personal projects, I want to take part in several Picture Book Prizes. Also, I am working on my portfolio and I plan to find an agent in the future.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking a short course at Chelsea College of Arts?
Taking part in the Book Illustration course at the UAL has been a career changer for me. Now I feel more confident about how to work on a project and how to thrive as an illustrator. I had the opportunity of testing new techniques. I had the most wonderful teachers, who are artists I admire and respect, and learning from them was incredibly fulfilling. And taking part in the creative life of UAL, even for just a week, made me feel part of a community.

What characteristics do you think are vital to becoming a successful artist/creative, in any discipline?
Practice, Perseverance, Passion

What 3 words best describe your Short Course experience?
Approachability, Active learning, Feedback

You can see more of Monica’s work on her website or on her Instagram page

Or read more stories about Illustration:

Student Story: Rebbeca Morse, Book Illustration
Developing Your Illustration Skills at Home