My illustration role model is Holly Exley, as she is the perfect example of being able to earn a living from her work without having an agent. She also highlights the importance and effectiveness of social media, and how it is the key to becoming a successful and well known illustrator.
Exley has only been doing illustration for 6-7 years after graduating from university, but in this short amount of time she has already gained a very impressive client list that includes: The Wall Street Journal, Universal Music, Marks and Spencers, Tesco Magazine, Westfields, and many more well known businesses. She has achieved all of this without the help of an agency, as she feels like such a partnership caused a hindrance for communication between her and the client. Exley discussed this topic on her blog, as she was represented by the AOI for 2 months, but noticed that she lost the power and one-to-one communication between her and the company commissioning her work, and so decided to leave. Instead she has found it more effective to self-promote her work on social media, which has proved to be very successful. Therefore she is he perfect role model for upcoming inspiring illustrators, as she demonstrates how effective and essential social media is when wanting to do illustration full time.
Exley works from home, and in between completing work for clients, she sells a few items on her Etsy store & uploads regular videos on her YouTube channel. It was her videos that she posted online which led me to discovering her work, and from there I followed her on Instagram, and then researched into her further. This shows how effective having many social media accounts can be, as one leads to the other, and they all add up to more publicity & sales at the end.
Her work inspires me as I feel like Exley has been able to make herself stand out from the crowd. It is very easy to start doing work just like other artists and illustrators, and in her situation, there are loads of people creating watercolour illustrations. However, Exley's style adds a modern twist, and contemporary feel to the traditional watercolour paintings that you normally see. In order to be successful, you need to stand out, be different & to bring something new and exciting to the illustration world - this will ultimately attract the attention of potential clients. Not only this, but it is perhaps as important to promote yourself, and the best way to do this (as demonstrated by Exley), is to be active on a variety of social media sites. This will help gain a following of all types of people, and the links between the sites will ultimately bring you more interest and sales on your online shop, and more commissions from big named companies.