Here is the interview we had a chance to do with Brett Wilkinson and some of his amazing new work. We want to thank Brett for taking the time to answer to our questions and we hope you enjoy his interview.
Please introduce yourself and what you do in no more than four sentences…
My Name’s Brett, I’m based in Leicester (UK) and work as an illustrator under the name Onesidezero. My work is bright, fun and minimal and is most often used for products, publications and advertising amongst other things.
When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator/artist? What inspired you? Why Onesidezero?
I never intended to be an illustrator, when I was growing up I wanted to be an artist amongst other things but never really looked at illustration as a career having not been exposed to the world of money which is obviously part of the job, making images to make a living. When I made the choice to pursue illustration I was already studying design and it happened naturally as the two subjects are linked.
I take inspiration for my work from everything around me, people I meet, books, music, photography, nature, travelling and so forth. I don’t think there is one source although I often get into the same relaxed mindset when working so I can focus.
The name Onesidezero is really old, it comes from an interest in Mobius Strips which I discovered though my science class at school. These are single sided loops that appear to be impossible, you can make them yourself with paper and if you try to colour just one side you’ll end up with both sides coloured in, it’s quite strange. I used to scribble them on desks, books, scraps of paper and they stayed constant through my education so I decided to choose Onesidezero to represent my work.
What do you think makes a good illustrator?
Someone who can convey something in their own artistic form, with interesting style and concepts; perhaps not as loosely as a fine-artist or as overly-considered as a designer would which is a nice challenge. What is the best part about what you do?
Coming up with concepts and initial sketches for a project that involves something you previously knew nothing about is pretty good as you learn so much. I also love seeing the final result, when the illustration you’ve made is finally used on a product or campaign or even when someone purchases a print for their wall. You get a great sense of achievement.
What’s a normal day for Brett Wilkinson?
Tricky question as my days aren’t generally normal. I do the usual, get up, exercise, have breakfast and travel to my office but after this anything can happen. I might spend weeks making a logo for a client or a couple of days illustrating something for someone, the clients are all different so it’s never boring.
When you first started, how did you work out how much to charge for illustration commissions?
I didn’t work anything out; people would name a price and agree if I thought it was reasonable otherwise I’d reject the work. It didn’t take long before I stopped this way of working as its common for those commissioning you to forget about the other things involved in illustration like research and development, phone calls, materials and other overheads. When you factor all these in the price has to increase for the work to be financially viable, so naming a price is tricky business and unless you are dealing with art directors who know the deal a quote is usually followed by an explanation of charges. It’s also vital to consider the value of your work correctly and the financial return your work will place on the client’s product or service. I regularly get requests to illustrate for products and upon quoting charges clients are often confused as they expect minimal figures. In reality illustration forms a large part of the consumer’s decision for purchase and clients who opt for ‘cheaper alternatives’ will quickly find they have a very hard time making sales.
What’s been your biggest paycheque so far?
About 18cm wide x 9cm high
Do you attend many gallery shows or exhibitions? What was the last one you went to?
Yes but sadly not enough, I’m very keen on visiting exhibitions as you get to experience the work with all your senses rather than viewing a 2D piece in a book or onscreen. The last exhibition I visited was a small photography show although I am planning some big gallery visits this summer.
Apart from illustration, what other things are you into?
I have interests in a whole range of things as I have a fixation on learning new skills. At present I’m into cooking, painting, design and photography and am starting to get into golf, getting back into festivals as it’s the summer and I’m also a keen musician having played drums and guitar for most of my adult life so regularly practice both of these whenever time allows.
Who are your favourite artists/designers/illustrators alive or dead?
Herb Lubalin, Keith Tyson, Tim Biskup, Lucinda Rogers, Rankin, Eyvind Earle, Stephen Quiller, Paul Rand, Matisse, Picasso and Mark Boutavant. There are many more but these come to mind today. What’s coming up next for Brett Wilkinson? I have a few projects queuing up that include music packaging, a book cover and a print series but new projects often come out of the blue without warning and leave little time to prepare making it quite hard to plan ahead.
How often do you Google your own name?
Everyday but not out of some obsessive need for fame, it’s useful for SEO and to know what others are saying about my work. I’ve found my illustrations posted all over the place with some really nice comments, some people opt to change all the colours of my work and then post them on blogs which is bizarre and others like to write about things I never actually intended my work to represent. I’ve even found school classes studying my work; it’s always interesting to read what people have to say and I’m grateful for the comments.
Agent or no Agent?
At present I’m with YCN but they don’t represent artists in the same manner as official agent does, nonetheless they are great to work with. I used to be with an agency that consistently lost work by over-quoting projects but would still consider new representation given a good record. At the moment a lot of people are approaching me directly as a result of seeing my work somewhere so they have usually carefully considered my work for their needs first.
One style or many? Why?
Having one style as an illustrator is beneficial as it gives an art director clarity and confidence in your work as most aren’t prepared to take a gamble and prefer to judge commissions on previous projects. If you are a fine artist or designer then you are usually free to explore multiple styles which are often demanded in different projects.
Roast Chicken or Roast beef?
So difficult, each has their occasion. I’d choose Roast Chicken to accompany a nice roast dinner and Roast Beef flavour crisps to accompany a cold beer.