20th May 2016 Shannon Kovacs

A Cup Of Tea With…Liz Harry

What happens when thortful teams up with Liz Harry ahead of her #thortfulTakeover? The lady who has designed legendary artwork for some of the world’s biggest music stars?

Well, a huge catch-up for starters as she spills the beans on all the famous artists she’s worked for. Juicy!
instagram-In-Stream_Square___liz pic
What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up?
Switch off the alarm…haha! This usually drifts into a bit of a look on the phone at Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook – as a work-from-home-office-freelancer, it’s a great way to get a quick inspirational fix over a cuppa and to feel connected to the outside world. I try to squeeze in visits to exhibitions, galleries, arts events whenever I can, but it’s amazing how much I can find globally, all from my kitchen table!
 
What does a typical working day look like in the life of Liz Harry?
The great thing about my work is no two days are usually the same – I can be illustrating from home one day, then building an installation in a theatre or on set the next. I do have a structure to the day, which is mainly to fit around my 3 kids.
So in the morning I’ll respond to emails, then onto the job in hand. I usually work through lunch when I’m absorbed in what I’m doing and then have a break at 2.30-3.30 to pick up my middle child from school, which gives me a quick refresh! Sometimes if it’s a quiet day, I’ll stop there, other days I’ll carry on till 5/6 until everyone’s home for dinner. After the kids are in bed, I’ll sometimes pick up work again.
Depending on the job, working of a night can be amazingly productive and there’s nights where I forget the time and stay up till the wee hours. Of course that all changes the next morning if I’ve only had 3 hours sleep! I generally like to complete works ahead of a deadline, then I have time to ponder it a bit and make any tweaks I feel it needs. I think I’m possibly a workaholic!?
 
You’ve created artwork for some of the biggest names in the music industry. Which artist was your favourite to work with?
Argh – so many to choose from! There’s artists you just click with personally and feel are a kindred spirit, even aside from the work (though the two are almost always intrinsically intertwined!), and I’ve really enjoyed the time spent with Sparrow And The Workshop and Pearl And The Puppets.
Then there’s the artists that enable you to create something that you not only get joy from doing, but it boosts your career too. I couldn’t leave the Arctic Monkeys out of this list, or Jessie J and The Zutons. I have to especially mention my long standing clients The Feeling – whom I’ve worked with for 10 years this coming December – whom have been a joy to know personally, professionally and creatively.
I also have to mention the two labels that I credit my career to Deltasonic Records and Universal – who took chances on a young upstart.
 
Were there any artists who were difficult to work with?
Not that I can recall, but there’s obviously been many stumbling blocks along the way! For all the fantastic clients, there’s been ones where I’ve struggled to ‘realise the visual’. I find that most issues with creative work arrives when you don’t have a similar visual language.
Most people working within the creative industries have developed and been educated in terms and styles their whole life, so communicating creative-to-creative is usually easy.
 
What’s your inspiration soundtrack?
My partner is also a freelancer working from home in animation. Essentially I create still images and he does moving ones, so its a bit of a battle of playlists! He definitely broadens my musical tastes, but when he’s out, I play all the pop and as he puts it, ‘sad, singing ladies’.
 
What’s the best thing about illustrating summed up in a sentence?
I get to do what I love and pay the bills with it.
 
Share one tip that every aspiring illustrator needs to know…
If you don’t have an agent you need to get a little business savvy! Boring I know, but it’s the one thing that can take you from hobby to career. Also persistence and self belief is key, which is something that can’t be taught but can be developed!
Set realistic goals alongside dream ones – break it down into steps! Start with the realistic ones, crossing them off as and when you can. You can’t control how your work will be received, or if you’ll get a certain commission, but if you have goals you’re constantly working on you’ll always feel like you’re moving towards your dream.
 
Tell us one of your favourite places to go for inspiration (can be online or offline!)
Online I’m a big pinner and would be gutted if Pinterest suddenly didn’t exist! As mentioned before, I always try to get to cultural events, but if a creative block becomes a problem, just doing something else for a while helps. I take short breaks in trendy coffee shops, as a break can give me time to mull things over more organically until inspiration hits.
 
Lastly, what’s the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 
I like heavy metal. Goes back to my teenage years as a headbanger.
 
Check out Liz Harry’s designs on thortful here.