FreelancerPro Interview: Punky Chicken
Sometimes, the freelance world can seem like one big sea with too many fishes. There are plenty of designers, writers, crafters–but then there are a few that stand out. You know the type…you look at their work and you know they are the real deal.
Courtney Mason is that type of illustrator. With a glowing portfolio full of inspiring work and Lemonaid Illustration as her agent, Courtney’s career has gotten off on the right track.
It started with two degrees in graphic design, but it’s her real-world experience and clients such as Hyundai, Ford and Sony/BMG that have helped her carve out her own unique niche. And with a business name like Punky Chicken, well, how can you not be intrigued?
You are represented by an agency–how did you get representation and how does that work?
Yes! I am represented by Lemonade in the UK. I have only been represented by Lemonade for a few months now. They are more than wonderful and I have loved working with them!
Typically when you are represented by an agency they will bring you jobs when they feel you are a good fit. It really is a wonderful relationship and I highly recommend being represented if your art is your career.
Your press clips are impressive. How have you gotten placement–is this something the agency does? How can freelancers secure their own press–what’s your best strategy there?
Thank you! This is something I really took on myself. I have been contacting all sorts of different magazines to get the word out about punky-chicken.com. The key is to keep trying and spread your name to anyone who will listen. Have faith in yourself as an artist of value and others will follow.
There are so many talented artists who just need a little exposure because if no one sees your art no one will know you exist. Just get out there and let people know who you are and how passionate you are about your career.
Many of the big clients listed on my website I was able to get on my own through exposure and features in magazines.
Where’d you get the name Punky Chicken?
Actually this nickname came about seven years ago when I met my husband. He called me his little “Punky Chicken” and it stuck.
How can others get started in this field–what does it take?
Being a freelance designer takes a lot of hard work. You really have to love what you are doing and be able to design and come up with concepts for yourself as well as others. I find that by designing all of the time I am able to learn new techniques and evolve as a designer.
I think the most important thing is being passionate about design. I wake up every morning thinking about how excited I am to create. There really is nothing in the world I would rather do.
What programs do you use and what applications do you think are on the horizon?
I love Photoshop and Illustrator! These are my favorite! I think that in time programs will keep evolving to the point where we will be able to create just about anything we can think up.
I love creating on the computer, illustrating by hand, painting, and scanning illustrations back into the computer to create something unexpected. I hope at some point to get into a more 3D look and feel.
What’s your best strategy for securing clients?
No matter how big or small the client is I really take the time to make sure that I can bring their vision to life. This is done by making sure that I understand exactly what the client is looking for and really spend the time working to make sure that all the details are refined to the point where the clients is thrilled with the results.
Every client should know how important his or her project is and knows that the end result will exceed his or her expectations.
Is most of your work in-house for agencies? How can freelancers acquire jobs for large companies, many of which want workers on-site?
Many jobs that I have done I have never even met the people I have worked with in real life. Its funny, I feel like I get to know them really well because we are speaking daily and working together, but often there is no need to meet and usually they are not even in the same city.
Nowadays it really isn’t necessary to meet with a client (although some prefer). We are able to talk on the phone, email, and Skype and do just about any type of communication without having to travel or even meet face to face.
What’s your typical day like?
It really depends on what I have going on that day. I usually get up and turn on my computer to check email. After I have had my morning coffee I work on client and personal projects. I spend much of my day exploring and creating.
I moved to Miami, Florida, almost two years ago and have found that there is really inspiration all around us with the beach, sun, palm trees and wonderful weather. This has really helped me as a designer and I can’t help but feel inspiration wherever I go.
What issue do you think will have the biggest effect on the illustration community?
I think when the economy turns around agencies will start to look at the importance of design and illustration in marketing again. I always get excited when I see an advertising campaign where a company has really put a lot of time and effort into the design and is really selling their message.